By Stan Friedman
BOKONZO, DR CONGO (July 8, 2014)—The students at one of three schools built in the Gemena region over the past year by Covenant Kids Congo powered by World Vision (CKC) did something recently that many of them and their families once might have thought impossible. They advanced a grade after receiving a quality education.
A mother who has children in first, second, fourth, and sixth grades shared with Covenant missionary Pete Ekstrand how thrilled she was. “I am very grateful for this new school as it gives my children a good place to learn,” she said. “Here they have a good learning environment with desks, good blackboards, enough space, a good roof so the rain doesn’t bother them. My children can learn better in this good environment. My children also like going to school because it is a nice school.”
Pastor Joel Zambite, who has two children in the school, expressed similar sentiments, adding that the high quality of the school has actually created another problem. Some classes already are crowded because children are so excited about the opportunity to attend.
Each of the three schools built in the past year has a capacity to serve 1,500 students, said Christine Buettgen, who served as a Covenant short-term missionary to Congo and is currently project manager of CKC.
There are currently 1,080 students, with a total of 14 classes for six different grades, at the school, Ekstrand said. There are three sections of each of the first, second, and third grades. The fourth and fifth grades each have two sections. The sixth grade has one section.
To educate that many students two shifts of classes are held, with some grade levels attending in the morning and the others in the afternoon.
In addition to the improved facilities, so far 310 educators at those schools as well as others are receiving additional training. “Nearly 22,000 children are already benefiting from this training and have improved access to quality education, with a special emphasis on language and mathematics,” Buettgen said.
Parents also have gotten involved. “Fifty presidents of parent-teacher associations have received training on approaches to improving school attendance,” Buettgen said. “These are real changes making a visible difference in the lives of children in Gemena. We are so grateful for your continued support as we train up the next generation of leaders and change-makers in Congo.”
More than 6,000 children have been sponsored, and 250 U.S. churches are participating in CKC’s Ledia Water Project to provide access to clean water and improve the quality of education, Buettgen said.