- Title: IVORY COAST: Closed schools leave 800,000 pupils without education
- Date: 14th March 2011
- Summary: ABIDJAN, IVORY COAST (FILE) (REUTERS) VARIOUS STREET SCENES VARIOUS OF DISPLACED FAMILIES SHELTERING IN A CHURCH
- Embargoed: 29th March 2011 13:00
- Location: Cote d'Ivoire
- Country: Ivory Coast
- Topics: Domestic Politics,Education
- Reuters ID: LVA6P2RFJC8H7Z1HV2WLKN9DIT32
- Story Text: In Ivory Coast's second city BouakÃ©, the doors to the Martin Luther King secondary school have been locked ever since violence broke out after the disputed presidential elections last November.
Arthur, one of the school's students says his teachers told him and his classmates it wasn't safe to come to lessons while the situation was unstable so they boarded up the classroom and told everyone to go home.
Since then, the doors have been locked and the school playground empty.
"Hi! My name is Arthur. I'm twelve I'm in Year 6 at Lycee Moderne Martin Luther King in Cote D'Ivoire in the city of Bouake in the Kennedy neighbourhood opposite the Bambi School," he says introducing himself outside his old classroom.
His school is one of hundreds to close since the presidential elections leaving an estimated 800,000 kids with nowhere to continue their education.
Some of the schools have closed because of the threat of violence keeping children at home with their families. Others, like Arthur's are closed because the teachers and pupils are staying away in protest at the still unresolved presidential elections.
And with the political stalemate between incumbent president Laurent Gbagbo and opposition leader Alassane Ouattara showing no signs of coming to a close, it doesn't look like Arthur and his friends will be returning to lessons any time soon.
Instead Arthur spends his time on a market stall trying with the three friends he has left to sell second hand toys and toiletries.
"My big brother told me to come here and sell. Because of the electoral crisis we don't go to school so we come here to try and earn money," he said.
Back home he tries to find time to continue his studies alone so he doesn't fall too far behind.
French is his current favourite subject and he hopes one day to become an engineer.
"I don't want to stay at home and not go to school. I want to go back to school because school allows us to make progress," he said.
In other parts of the country including the capital Abidjan, children have not just left school, they have been forced to flee with their families to find sanctuary from places where fighting has been heaviest.
Temporary shelter found in churches and set up by charities have helped keep them clean and fed. But for the many children away from home, the problem of education remains.
On Thursday (March 10), the African Union (AU) endorsed Ouattara as president-elect and recommended the formation of a government involving all political parties and civil society, while ensuring "all the necessary guarantees" for Gbagbo when he steps down.
However Ouattara, who is widely seen to have won the vote in November, said he would not be prepared to consider a power sharing deal.
Gbagbo has refused to relinquish power in the world's biggest cocoa producer, says that U.N.-certified election results showing he lost to Ouattara were rigged.
Clashes have continued in the past few days between forces loyal Ouattara and Gbagbo's security forces, killing dozens and injuring many more.
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