Children attend a class at the Wangata commune school in Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo, on May 23, 2018. PHOTO | REUTERS
Squeezed on to benches and on the floor, the Congolese students of Kipushi Primary School did not complain that they only had a few, battered textbooks to share — just down the road, hundreds of less fortunate children were working in open-pit mines.
Enrolment at the school — named after the town of 174,000 people, which is dominated by its copper, zinc and cobalt mines — has risen by 75 percent to 1,400 students since the Democratic Republic of Congo introduced free primary education in 2019.
“The difficulties are there but free education is a good thing because getting kids to study back then was a headache,” said Maloba Mputu Stany, principal of the school in the eastern province of Haut-Katanga.