DDI Mobile Schooling Program Helps 110 Children in DRC

The Diamond Development Initiative's (DDI) mobile schooling program has helped 110 children from remote mining communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) complete their primary education program and pass state exams.

The program aims to provide remedial education to children in diamond mining communities to prevent them from working in the mines and give them the chance to reintegrate into the formal schooling system, the DDI said in a statement. The two-year curriculum provides children with the opportunity to acquire essential literacy and numeracy skills and grade-level general knowledge with the goal of passing the national exam.

The DDI has been operating four mobile schools with six classrooms, for a total of 121 students. The schools are sponsored by Brilliant Earth (one school in Kasaï Occidentale), the Diamond Empowerment Fund (one school in Kasaï Occidentale) and Signet Jewellers (two schools in Kasaï Orientale).

Despite intensive preparation for the exams, a 100 percent success rate was not expected, but all the children who wrote the exams passed. The other 11 students were unable to sit the exams because of family mobility and local security issues.

Mpoyi Nsanza is among the graduates. She abandoned school at the age of 10 when her family moved to the mining community of Tshifumba. Because there was no school in the village, she followed her father to the diamond mine to work. Two years later, she was selected for the mobile school.

"At the beginning of the program it was hard for me to adapt because it was intense, but I was motivated by the meals that were offered twice a day and I was afraid of the mining work because it was much harder than attending school." After 18 months of remedial training, Nsanza passed the state exams as best female student. Now she says she has two wishes: to become a mining engineer, and for education to be available to all the other children in her community.

Dorothée Gizenga, Executive Director of DDI, echoes the sentiment. "DDI has responded to a pressing need, but does not have the resources to meet all the schooling requirements in artisanal mining communities. All children, from elementary and secondary levels, should be in school."

For this reason, along with accompanying the current group of primary graduates through to the end of secondary school, DDI is working to engage local and international partners, and seeking a commitment on the part of local and national governments to provide all children in mining communities with basic education.

Omer Lukamba, the traditional chief of Tshifumba, says, "We were happy when DDI came to our village to offer remedial education, because there was no school here before. With these results, we are even happier because our kids have made us proud."