Dia’s School in Messok Dja forest reopens after 4 years of closure

In the small remote village of Dia, on the edge of Messok Dja protected area (Republic of Congo), one of the last sanctuaries of forest elephants and great apes in the world, the children had not attended school for more than 4 years. In July 2016, Esdras and his friends celebrated the end of the school year. Little did they know that this was their last school year: « No one could imagine that this was our last day of schooll « he recalls.

« As a result, many children have not had access to education, » lamented Mr. Alfred Mengongo, secretary of Dia village. For the record, Dia village had its first school built in 1982. But the political crisis of 1997 led to its closure. Reopened in 2013, it was a shed that served as a classroom. However, due to lack of teachers and teaching materials, the school closed again leaving the children of Dia and the surrounding villages unschooled again..

Mr. Mengongo has seen his first son grow up without a school education. However, he still has two other children of school age, so the new school gives him hope for the future of his children. « Our children’s daily life was limited to work in the fields; today, with this school, we can say that their future will no longer be mortgaged, » he added.

Esdras, (12 years old) future pupil of the elementary school of Dia did not hide his joy and invited all his friends to go back to school with him.

Convinced that education is key for achieving conservation success, WWF and its partners, particularly the local and indigenous communities living around Messok Dja , joined forces to help bring hope to the new generations of the Dia village and surrounding villages by arranging a new school building with three equipped classrooms. In order to start the classes, school kits were also provided to the students in December 2020.

« You know, in a village that has no school, there are no elites for tomorrow. Today, we are more than happy because this school will contribute to a better tomorrow for our children, » added Mr. Mengongo.

While receiving this support, Mr. Théodore GOLO, Sub-prefect of Sembé region, expressed his gratitude and underlined his satisfaction « to see the children of Dia and the surrounding villages finding their way back to school ».