Last Updated: Thursday, 26 May 2016, 08:56 GMT

Central African Republic: Idris Gilbert, "Teaching is my passion but to earn some money I cultivate people's land"

Publisher Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)
Publication Date 21 February 2011
Cite as Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Central African Republic: Idris Gilbert, "Teaching is my passion but to earn some money I cultivate people's land", 21 February 2011, available at: [accessed 27 May 2016]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

N'dele, 21 February 2011 (IRIN) - With literacy and school-enrolment rates among the lowest in the world, the continuing fighting between local rebel groups is putting even more pressure on CAR's fragile education system. 

Years of displacement have caused the collapse of school attendance. Destroyed or looted facilities are still being rebuilt and the recruitment of teachers in areas affected by violence in the North is extremely difficult, leaving humanitarian aid organizations battling to providing basic education.

Like many others, Idris Gilbert's life and ability to work were disrupted by political instability and violence.

Trained as a primary-school teacher, in the early 1980s Gilbert was appointed agent for education by the Mayor of N'dele of the Bamingui-Bangoran Prefecture, in the northeast of CAR.

From 2000 he worked in Bangbah, a village 60Km from N'dele, along the Miamani-Golongosso axis, later controlled by the rebel group Convention of Patriots for Justice and Peace (CPJP).

Formed in December 2008 as a splinter group from the Union des forces démocratiques pour le rassemblement (UFDR), the CPJP has yet to sign the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) with the government and take part in the disarmament, demobilization and reintegration (DDR) programme being undertaken by other factions.

"In late 2008, some CPJP rebels came to me in the middle of the night saying I should leave the village as they were told I had informed the Mayor of Djamassinda about an attack that was about to take place in a nearby village.

"Until that moment CPJP had respected me because of the job I do. But when they found out it was me releasing the information, I was put on their black-list.

"Now my life was in danger but luckily people from the village had left before rebels arrived.

"I decided to stay in the village anyway. I was trying to keep regular lessons with the children in school though the situation was so fragile a lot of people had left. Many of them never came back.

"CPJP paid me regular visits just to ensure I would not cooperate with the government again. But in September 2010 my life was again no longer safe."

Because of a clash between the armed group CPJP and UFDR, Gilbert's family was threatened by both factions because of his wife's ethnic group.

"My wife is a Gula, the ethnic group mainly supporting UFDR and we were living in a village controlled by CPJP. The CPJP did not want to have Gulas in the area they controlled and equally the UFDR did not want us to live in a CPJP-controlled town.

"This time I felt I had no choice. I couldn't risk anything happening to my family. I left the village and relocated to N'dele.

"Since I left I haven't been under contract with the government any more. However, I decided to carry on with teaching in rural areas, even though I am not paid for it. Teaching is my passion but now to earn some money I have to cultivate people's land."

Theme (s): Conflict, Education, Human Rights,

[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]

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