Right To Play in Burundi

Right To Play has operated programs in Burundi since 2008, partnering with the government to build the capacity of community organizations and sports federations to successfully implement peace-building initiatives. We use structured play, including sport, to drive peaceful interventions in communities by providing children and youth with positive social, emotional, cognitive and physical life skills, inclusive of cooperation, self-esteem, communication, confidence and empathy.

Right To Play is committed to improving both access to and quality of education in Burundi, in alignment with the government’s medium-term transitional education plan (2018-2020). In 2018, Right To Play formalized its partnership with the Ministry of Education and Vocational and Professional Training through a memorandum of understanding.

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The challenges faced by children and youth in Burundi

In 2019, Burundi was ranked 185 out of 189 countries and territories on the Human Development Index, a reflection of persistently high levels of poverty and demographic pressures, as well as periodic political unrest and local conflict. While overall human development indicators remain low, Burundi has significantly increased access to primary education since 2005 with the introduction of free primary education. Gender parity was achieved at the primary level in 2012. Nevertheless, significant gaps remain in the equity and quality of education.

During an 2018 education sector review, the Ministry of Education and its stakeholders identified several causes of high drop-out and repetition rates including insufficient school materials and infrastructure, large class sizes, the absence of in-service training, lack of support for students by teachers, parents and child protection committees, as well as gender-based violence, pregnancy and early marriage. As a result, only one in five adolescent girls and one in four adolescent boys are enrolled in secondary school. The average class size in grades 1 and 2 is 92 children.

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Improving the delivery of quality education

We are working in partnership with the Ministry of Education to integrate active, child-centered, play-based methodologies into teaching practice. In 2018, we trained a cadre of 27 ministry master trainers on play-based learning, positive learning environments, and coaching and mentoring. We are now supporting these master trainers to roll-out training to teachers, head teachers and district education officers in Bujumbura and Bujumbura Mairie provinces.

Recognizing that poor quality infrastructure impedes learning and can be a cause of drop-out, Right To Play has responded to the request of the Ministry of Education to improve school infrastructure, particularly sanitation facilities. In 2020, with the support of the Government of Canada, Right To Play extended its work to Ruyigi province, with a focus on enhancing the quality of education for children returning to Burundi from refugee camps in Tanzania, and for children in the communities receiving repatriated Burundians.


“With Right To Play's monitoring and support model, the barriers between the director and the teachers have been broken; there has been a change in behavior and the mode of collaboration has improved. We are no longer feared as there is no visit in a class which is not planned together before and no specific and agreed upon observation that is not jointly prepared.” – Primary school head teacher


Addressing the barriers that limit opportunities for children

Through our programs, we strive to address the barriers that hinder the demand for and access to education, particularly for girls. We provide material support and training on improved menstrual hygiene management, and teach girls how to make reusable pads. We also strengthen reporting mechanisms and referral pathways to respond to child protection issues, including gender-based violence. And we work with school management committees to address school and community-based barriers to children’s education.

We are committed to promoting the agency of girls, and to strengthen their capacity to influence decisions that affect their education and learning. Girls’ clubs in schools and in the community are one of the key platforms we use to help girls develop confidence and self-esteem. In these clubs, trained teachers and community coaches lead girls and boys in play-based activities that build understanding and skills around children’s rights, gender equality and leadership. These clubs are also a platform for sharing knowledge and skills related to sexual and reproductive health and rights.

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Empowering youth as change agents and peace builders

Together with local civil society partners, we train community coaches to use play-based activities to help youth develop life skills like positive communication, leadership, conflict resolution, and empathy. We also support youth to develop financial literacy skills, and to form youth groups. These groups identify and discuss issues facing their community and think of solutions together. Many also lead community-wide dialogues on topics such as non-violent communication, tolerance, human rights, rumor management, and peaceful coexistence. These ongoing dialogues often produce community peace memorandums which make commitments based on the specific concerns that arise during the dialogues.


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Right To Play gratefully acknowledges the support of all of our financial and technical partners. Supporters of our programs in Burundi include the Government of Canada, the Church of Latter-Day Saint Charities, and supporters like you.


Contact our Burundi office

#3, Avenue Juru, Q. Gasekebuye
Bujumbura Mairie, Burundi
Phone: +257 22 27 36 27

More info on our work in Burundi