It has been reported that the fear of the dreaded Ebola disease has continued to spread through the Democratic Republic of Congo.
In fact, many students have stayed away from schools as frantic efforst are made to curb the spread of the disease.
According to the Agence France Presse, AFP, in the village of Mangina, where dozens have died of Ebola at the epicentre of Democratic Republic of Congo’s latest outbreak, children are to be seen everywhere — except in school, because their parents fear they will be infected in class.
“The children are not here today. It’s the parents who are keeping them at home,” primary school teacher Christian Muhindo said as he paced between empty desks. “They think that the children will be easily contaminated at school.”
“They don’t know that teachers have been taught to cope,” Muhindo said. “UNICEF has trained us to protect the children and to take the right steps in the event of a sick child.”
Teaching staff and aid workers fear that children who walk around freely in the village pose a risk far worse than they would pose in a monitored classroom.
Ebola has already claimed more than 60 lives in Mangina, a village of just a few thousand inhabitants.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) has encouraged teachers to see that basins of chlorinated water are placed in schools.
The viral haemorrhagic fever broke out in the Beni region of the eastern North Kivu province on August 1 in the middle of the school holidays.
Of the 81 deaths registered by authorities, 62 were in Mangina, according to an updated toll on Monday, the first day of the new school year.
Mangina’s secondary school is usually bustling at this time of year with between 560 and 600 children, according to headmistress Aldegonde Batsyoto.
“Today, we only enrolled two pupils,” she said.
“On the radio, in church, they announce that the new academic year has already arrived and that all necessary precautions have been taken. But in the villages, they’re afraid that children will be contaminated at school.”