Page last updated at 18:08 GMT, Monday, 12 October 2009 19:08 UK
Hungry to learn across the world



School pupils affected by war and conflict have been telling BBC News about their education.

OMOLO, CUBU SCHOOL, GULU, UGANDA
Omolo

My name is Omolo and I am 15 years old.

During the war, thieves came into my house and killed my father and my younger brother.

Since my father died, my mum has to go to the village farm to dig for money for school fees for me and my brother.

Our first born brother became a drug dealer and he was also killed so my sister is always looking for work so she can look after us.

When she is away, I cook for my family and I also look after my brother who lost his legs in an accident last year.

'Many challenges'

There are many challenges for children in Cubu. Parents in my community have no education and they cannot read or write English.

When it is rainy season they keep children at home so they can work in the garden, so they cannot go to school.

I am happy there is peace. I like going to school and my favourite subject is English.

After school I like to help my mum in the house and I am also a member of a breakdance group and I go to class every Saturday.

Next year I will do my PLE (Primary Leaving Examination) and I want to go to secondary school but school fees are very expensive so we have to find some money.


(Omolo is supported by African Revival)

OBITA, CUBU SCHOOL, GULU, UGANDA

Obita: 'I want to go to university'

When I was seven years old, my parents and neighbours were arrested and killed by rebels in the LRA (Lord's Resistance Army).

My friend was also abducted by them and killed.

I stay with my uncle near to my school and I walk to school every day and then at lunchtime I go to my uncle's place for food. He is the one who pays my school fees.

Many children cannot go to school because they are orphans and they have nobody to pay their school fees.

Also, many parents do not work and men can be drunkards so they don't care about their children.

Some parents keep their daughters at home so that they can look after the children and work around the house but they pay for the boys to go to school.


(Obita is supported by African Revival)

MOSES, FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE

Moses

My childhood days were seriously affected by the war in Sierra Leone.

I lost almost two and a half years of schooling because my family were not there for me and my uncle could not afford to let me go to school. When the rebels attacked my area I completely lost touch with my whole family.

I have heard since that my mother has died but I have no concrete news of my father. Now my school is my family.

I joined EducAid (a free secondary school) to keep myself off the street and to ensure I continue my education in a well supervised community.

I am a final year student reading electronics and electrical engineering at the University of Sierra Leone, Fourah Bay College.

Education can make me self-reliant. It can help me be in a position to challenge corruption in my country and learn how to earn my bread.

Many of those with whom I was living in the street before coming to school are still where I left them. Some are hardened criminals and spend half their time in prison.

Some are living a hand to mouth existence still in the street. Education has saved me from the same life and soon I will graduate as an engineer.


(Moses is supported by EducAid and Rafi.ki)

CJ, ST JOHN'S SCHOOL, CYPRUS

CJ

Hi, my name is CJ, I am 13 years old and I attend St Johns - a school for children of the military.

My dad is a colour sergeant in the army but I am not sure what he does. He has just returned from Afghanistan.

He was there for two or three months and before that he was away for six months. When he was away for six months he was in Iraq.

I miss my dad when he is away but it is not really a problem for me, I just have to help my mum more. I do worry about him though.

I live on Episkopi camp which is close enough for me to walk to school. I am an only child and my best friend is my dog called Scruff.

I have been to a school in the UK but I prefer St Johns. This is because you get a better education and it is not as rough as some UK schools.

I have been to three or four different schools and I don't mind changing schools.

This is my first school abroad. I also prefer it at this school because all my friends' dads are in the military as well.

I want to be in the army when I grow up.


JUNIOR, CONGOLESE REFUGEE, LONDON

Junior, Congolese refugee, London

I was born in Congo and came to England when I was 5 years old due to war and people attacking my village.

I saw children my age going to war and carrying big guns.

My school in Congo was like a house with only one room. We all had to sit and listen to the teacher who used to be strict.

There was no privacy when you wanted to go to the toilet. There was this hole in the ground and everyone saw when we wanted to use the hole.

There was no electricity, books or playground in Congo. I speak French and English and I still have lots of friends there.

I often ask my dad: 'Can we go and see my friends and my brother?'. But my dad says: 'Soon, Junior'

Education is important so that I can help my family. I want to be a famous football player and I want to build a school and a nice home in the Congo.

In the future, I want to go back and live there. 'I love Congo and my heart still is in Congo'.


MARGARET, FREETOWN, SIERRA LEONE

I lost my father during the war. My mother does not have the means to pay school fees for me.

Education is important to me because when girls are educated, they say, it is like educating the whole nation.

If I am educated, I hope to be somebody tomorrow and men will not be able to fool me. They will not dare to try and take advantage of me.

The war affected me because for now I am in year eight when I should be in year 11.

I lost my education for many years. The war caused my mother's poverty as the rebels burned our house and forced us to leave.

When I am educated, I will fight for peace and justice in Sierra Leone.


(Margaret is supported by EducAid and Rafi.ki)

ABU BAKARR, PORT LOKO, SIERRA LEONE
Abu Bakarr

The war has affected my education in so many ways.

I lost my father during the war and my mother died when I was two.

I was also captured by the rebels and made to fight with them for two years so I was without education throughout that time.

My home was destroyed which meant it was hard to go back to school even after the disarmament as we had to start rebuilding our lives first.

I came to know about EducAid through my brother because I was out of school for two years.

My brother told me that the school was free and I would not be asked for school fees. I was happy when I found out and started the following year.

I am now in senior secondary school, in the final year. I have to repeat my final year because I was very ill and nearly died six weeks before the public exams so I did not get the results I need.

Education is very important to me: 'a man can not be complete if he has no education.'

Through education one can know the truth from the lies. Education can make me independent.

It can help me change the attitude of my fellow citizens to reduce corruption in our nation. Education helps me know how to use modern technology like computers.

It can help me build up my family and stand on my own, moving away from poverty.


(Abu Bakarr is supported by EducAid and Rafi.ki)


Your comments on this story:

We at Framwellgate School Durham were really touched to hear the story of Omolo who has been through so much in his life. We have realised today how lucky we are to be at school and receive a free education in this country. We feel that the work that the BBC are doing on the 'hunger to learn' theme is very worthwhile. We all hope for equality all around the world.
Miss H Bennett and F1 tutor group, Durham, UK



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