Student clubs bring boys and girls to play together
A special day
Today is a special day at the Mambote (« happy » in kikongo) primary school in Bandundu, capital of the Kwilu province. EDUCON (Education Consultants), a UNICEF partner NGO, organizes the distribution of jerseys (called “vareuses” here in the Democratic Republic of the Congo) and footballs, destined to organize games in which girls and boys can play together.
A club in favor of gender equality
This distribution is the concretization of a wish made by the School’s Student club, created last year with the goal of promoting equality between boys and girls, aimed towards togetherness, and bringing the students to raise awareness within their families and friends about gender questions.
Many questions were raised: certain students suggested card and checkers games, others proposed games jumping ropes, others wanted picture boxes.
Nkeyi Bampumbudia, a 10 year old primary school student and president of the Club, organized debates et managed the voting process.
This distribution is in many ways the result of his efforts, and is he is proud to reach his goal as president of the Club to “bring girls and boys to play together”.
Words to solve problems
Two girls and two boys were selected and a vote was organized at the beginning of the school year by Modeste Kintibidi, teacher-supervisor and councilor of the club.
“The students voted for me because I am brave”, believes Nkeyi who takes this role very seriously.
“As president, I summon meetings and ask friends to identify problems. We then discuss these problems to find solutions. For example, in 8th grade, there was a lot of fights between girls and boys. Because a student in that class is a member of the club, I called him up and we spoke to the class in order to convince them to stop these quarrels”.
A change of behavior both at school and at home
Modeste Kintibidi believes that quarrels between boys and girls have diminished since the creation of the Clubs.
“The majority of school fights implicated boys against girls. Often times, boys would make fun of girls and thus it yielded disputes.”
“Since they became more aware about mutual respect and were encouraged to participate in activities together, there are less fights.”
Surprised, he also noticed a change in the behavior of children at home.
“Last year, two parents came to thank me because their boys started helping with chores at home!”
Nkevi, leads by example and sweeps his house’s yard every morning before going to school, and washes the dishes when he comes back in the evening. Those were chores that only her sister did.
[Photos: UNICEF DRC Dubouthoumieu]