The idea of mobile schooling was born of the need expressed in several artisanal diamond mining communities where DDI has operations. Mining communities often lack access to government educational services. Children must travel impracticable roads or impossible distances to reach the closest school. Instead, they drop out and are likely to work in the mines with their parents. To address the issue, DDI developed a Mobile Schooling program with the goal of “Sending Schools to Kids.” The idea was to train teachers on the government’s remedial education curriculum and send them into mining communities to deliver the courses to a targeted group of students. DDI provided classrooms, furniture, uniforms, school materials and meals to the students, as well as clothing and materials to teachers. Partners in the jewelry industry generously contributed funding for school operations.
DDI operated four mobile schools in two provinces. The first two schools opened in the summer of 2015, and were able to add a second class in 2016. The two other schools opened in February 2016. All were able to complete the remedial education curriculum in time for the state exams.
Of the 121 children registered in the mobile schools, 110 passed the state exams. The other 11 children were unable to participate because of the mobility of their families, largely due to the political insecurity in the area at the time of the exams. DDI will now support these children to integrate high schools in their areas so they can continue their education. The program has demonstrated that:
• Providing education in remote areas without infrastructure is possible and desirable;
• Children want to go to school, and education is a priority for their families;
• Children who work in the mines prefer school and will go if they have the opportunity;
• Communities are willing to contribute to their children’s education, whether through the donation of land and labour, volunteering their time, or monitoring and securing buildings and materials.
The mobile schooling program was successful, but limited. Because all children should have the opportunity to pursue primary and secondary schooling, DDI is now working to involve international and local partners as well as local and national governments in finding long-term solutions for the education of children in artisanal mining communities.