Learning together - A child's experience in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Capacity Development

Goal 2 Achieve universal primary education

by Deogratias Mwakamubaya Nasekwa 

When children have access to education, they are able to share their knowledge with others and the whole community benefits.

Learning is a process. Through learning, children and adults discover new knowledge together.

Since 2002, PPSSP (Programme for the Promotion of Primary Health Care in Rural Areas) has been working in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). PPSSP helps to improve the quality of life of the population by:

  • promoting good public health practices
  • providing emergency disaster assistance
  • reducing the trauma caused by armed conflict, HIV, gender-based and sexual violence

Spurred on by Proverbs 22:6 (NIV), 'Train a child in the way that he should go, and when he is old he will not turn from it', PPSSP has chosen to focus on children. Despite being more vulnerable to diseases and victims of the most serious abuse in society, children can be very active health promoters and provide answers to the problems they face.

Using the 'child-to-child' approach, PPSSP supported the formation of health clubs in schools, otherwise known as 'School Brigades'. There are eight types of Brigades that oversee the following areas:

  • water
  • latrines
  • food
  • student welfare
  • playground and classrooms
  • green spaces
  • diseases and first aid
  • smoking and alcoholism

Each Brigade has ten members and there are around 80 children who have been trained as health promoters.

The children in the Brigade train others in their school, children in other schools and children who do not go to school. They also train adults, including parents. Children trained in the child-to-child method in a primary school in Kotongo started a reforestation project. As a result, each household in the village of Kotongo has understood the importance of planting trees.

Nelson Mandela and Graça Machel said: 'Every child deserves to have the best possible start in life, to have the best possible opportunity to develop to [his or her] full potential and the opportunity to participate in [his or her] community in a fruitful way'.

Let us therefore listen to children and learn together.

Deogratias Mwakamubaya Nasekwa is Executive Director of PPSSP.

For more information on the child-to-child approach in health promotion, visit www.child-to-child.org

You can download ROOTS 7 – Child participation and Tearfund's Child Protection Policy free of charge here.

When children have access to education, they are able to share their knowledge with others and the whole community benefits.

Progress on Goal 2

Although there has been an increase in the percentage of children attending primary school in developing countries, it is unlikely that universal primary education will be achieved by 2015.

Aneeta Kulasegaran shares her experience of PPSSP's work

The elderly Director of BEU Primary School in Beni, DRC welcomed us and proudly outlined the school's 100-year history. Currently the school has 28 teachers and over 1000 students (an almost equal number of girls and boys). He expressed his appreciation for PPSSP's intervention in building latrines and informed me that the health promotion work with students had given the school credibility within the community. I was introduced to the 'School Brigade' of 10-14 year olds proudly wearing their blue and white bibs over their uniforms. They pointed out the child-friendly latrines built by PPSSP and enthusiastically demonstrated how they washed their hands with soap under a tap attached to a large black container. In the absence of their teachers, I was impressed by the knowledge of the Brigade about preventing diseases and the importance of keeping their environment clean. They had passed on their learning to their families and communities and now everyone knows more about keeping clean.

Aneeta Kulasegaran is Tearfund's Child Development Advisor.