Bahati Valérie tells of COFAPRI's plans for a co-ed school focusing on human rights and development

Interview by Jennifer Timmons. September 2012

COFAPRI has plans to open a school for children – what do these plans consist of?

COFAPRI [Congolese Females Action for Promoting Rights and Development] will open a school once we have enough means to do so – actually, COFAPRI will open and run it.

These plans consist of opening a school for children of both sexes. The school will mainly deal with human rights and development. This will allow the children to acquire wider notions regarding rights of all human beings, including children, boys and girls.

By educating children, COFAPRI hopes to have built a good foundation for eradicating violence in the future. If the youth are well-prepared, violence can be reduced and the school will be a place where all children, boys and girls, will feel welcome to learn about a harmonious society.

In DRC, children's education, may it be at home or at school, is still discriminatory. Boys and girls are educated at home in different ways and separately. The boy is prepared to become a respected man and the girl to become a submissive woman. In some areas of the DRC, there exist specific schools for boys and those for girls. These are some of the discriminations COFAPRI wants to combat once this school will be operational.

Could you tell me more about your plans for the Institute for Congolese Females Voicing their Rights (INCOFEVOR)?

INCOFEVOR is the Institute for Congolese Females Voicing their Rights. It will be created in the country, with different representations in the Great Lakes Region (GLR). The institute will educate not only women and girls about human rights, but also the males who abuse them, though some women may also be abusing other females or sometimes engaging in their own self-abuse.

INCOFEVOR will be a school that teaches formally the people, both men and women; currently, COFAPRI teaches informally mostly women and girls. This institute is still in the COFAPRI planning stage and we have no means for the moment to start it.

For the moment, we will need funds to support COFAPRI women, but with INCOFEVOR, funds will help us achieve a lot, such as purchasing the land to build the school or rent a building in which to operate, and purchase a land to start a women's farm. Also, funds will help support some women and girls who cannot afford paying the fees or can't get materials to use for classes, materials to use for teaching, like chairs for students to sit, boards, markers, teaching materials, a school restaurant, paying teachers, etc.

The extension of this institute to the Great Lakes Region for empowering the women and girls about their rights will help to raise the awareness of gender issues. The objectives of the institute will be to promote women’s human rights in the region.

What does INCOFEVOR need to provide children with?

It needs to educate children about human rights. A good start is the right way to eradicate social and war violence. They can learn non-violent ways of addressing conflicts and communication as a means to do so.