Our School Became the Battlefield

For many children in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo who yearn to study, armed men in their schools is an all too familiar sight. As the country grapples with ongoing fighting among various armed groups and the Congolese army (Forces armées de la République Démocratique du Congo, FARDC), abuses by troops in and around schools has serious consequences for the safety of students, teachers, and administrators, as well as students’ ability to learn.

This report documents how schools have come under attack from armed groups engaged in eastern Congo’s armed conflicts. Warring parties have also unlawfully recruited children, including by force, from schools or while on the way to school, to use either in combat operations or in support roles. They have abducted countless girls from schools to be raped or kept as “sex slaves.” Fear of abduction and sexual violence keeps many children from attending school. Parents have also kept children from schools out of concern that armed groups will target them for unofficial “taxes” imposed on civilians.

Resource Info

Resource Type



Published by

Human Rights Watch (HRW)


Protecting Education from Attack

Geographic Focus

Democratic Republic of the Congo