RCA 16 – SUPPORT FOR THE SCHOOLING OF PYGMIES
The "Holy Family of Nazareth" school in Siriri is located 15 km from Bagandou, in the middle of the equatorial forest. Siriri is a camp of Pygmies, the area belongs to the Municipality of Bale Loko, the sub-prefecture of Mbaiki and the Lobaye region, in the southwest area of the Central African Republic.
The population that inhabits this area consists of two ethnic groups: the majority are Pygmies followed by the Bantu. The pygmies are the ancient inhabitants of the area, skilled hunters and experts of plants, tubers and the nutritional riches that the forest hides. The pygmies describe the forest as a mother who always welcomes them with her silence broken by the harmonious singing of birds and the rustle of the wind.
The population that inhabits this area consists of two ethnic groups: the majority are Pygmies followed by the Bantu. The pygmies are the ancient inhabitants of the area, skilled hunters and experts of plants, tubers and the nutritional riches that the forest hides. The pygmies describe the forest as a mother who always welcomes them with her silence broken by the harmonious singing of birds and the rustle of the wind. The Bantus who came to this area at a later stage, and they are an ethnic group more exposed to modern centers and place themselves in an attitude of superiority towards the Pygmies and often treat them as cheap labor. Pygmies suffer discrimination in their own territory so we are looking for different ways to meet their learning system and integrate them little by little into the school curriculum of the Ministry of Education. It is a school of integration, which seeks to act as a bridge between the two ethnic groups, promoting tolerance, respect, and collaboration between the ethnic groups.
The present project aims to offer the possibility to pygmy children to have access to kindergarten and elementary school. This year we have 350 pupils spread over six classes: one kindergarten class and five primary school classes.
The sister in charge and responsible for the project follows the activities of the school every day. This is not an easy task because the school is far from the mission of Bagandou and the roads are very bad. She often uses an off-road vehicle driven by a driver (because of the rough roads). Right now, we are trying to build a small house to stay a few nights during the week, this will enable a closer follow-up of the students and the refresher sessions for teachers.
In addition to training children, the project aims to provide literacy courses for adults who, for various reasons, had to drop out of school when they were young.
Every time the children come to school, they receive a mid-morning snack of rice, milk and sugar that gives them energy (some pupils travel 10 km to come to school). Most students are pygmies and contribute to the school with basic necessities found seasonally in the forest (like fruit, berries, or large earthworms) and bundles of wood.
The school provides the teaching materials and salaries of the 8 teachers present. From this school there are 3 students who have completed their studies very well and we are supporting them with scholarships to help them reach a higher educational level. One primary school student has moved to the city and we are supporting him to help him complete his elementary studies.
- Give both Bantu and pygmy children living in this area of the forest, isolated from population centers, the opportunity to access school education.
- To ensure an integral formation: moral, human and Christian that can enable students to become responsible and respectable persons in society.
- Allow adult Pygmies and Bantu who are illiterate to learn to read and write.
- Support the updating of teachers with pedagogical sessions.
- Sponsor the studies of students Bavon, Agathe, Miguel, and Yvon, in the hope that they will one day help their own people.
Direct: 350 students of the Santa Famiglia de Nazareth school; 15 adults from the Pygmy and Bantou School of Literacy; 4 students Ngboko Bavon at the High School, Bemou Agathe, Kitoko Miguel at the Collège and Yangasso Yvon at the Elementary School.
Indirect: families and society
Pygmy parents often pay in kind by carrying bunches of bananas or taros potatoes. Mothers bring bundles of firewood, precious for the kitchen. They also help to mow the grass in the school grounds.
The Bantu parents pay the school fees which is 8, 000f.cfa (12 euros) for kindergarten and 10, 000f.cfa (15 euros) for elementary school.
Referent sister of the project: Sr. Rania Samir