Education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

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Primary school students in the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Primary education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) is not free and compulsory, even though the Congolese constitution says it should be.1

The education system in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is governed by three government ministries: the Ministère de l’Enseignement Primaire, Secondaire et Professionnel (MEPSP), the Ministère de l’Enseignement Supérieur et Universitaire (MESU) and the Ministère des Affaires Sociales (MAS).


The educational system in the DRC is similar to that of Belgium in that there are six years of primary followed by 6 years of secondary education. The education system has suffered from decades of conflict although recent years have shown an improvement.

In 2000, 65 percent of children ages 10 to 14 were attending school.2 As a result of the 6-year civil war, over 5.2 million children in the country receive no education.2 Official numbers for the school year 2009–10, report there were 35,915 primary schools serving 10,572,422 students; and 17,373 secondary schools serving 3,484,459 others.3

Of the 10 provinces the hardest hit by a lack of education are the North and South Kivu. More than 42% of children in these provinces have never been to school.4


With a GDP per capita of less than $400, many government programs such as basic education have been left underfunded and underdeveloped. In 2010 only 2.5% of GDP was spent on education. Ranking it 159th out of 173.5

Schools in the public sector are not organized by the state. Instead they are organized by an ideological or social group.

  • schools without conviction (French: Écoles non conventionnées)
  • Catholic schools (French: Écoles Conventionnées Catholiques)
  • Protestant schools (French: Écoles Conventionnées Protestantes)
  • Kimbanguist schools (French: Écoles Conventionnées Kimbanguistes)
  • Islamic schools (French: Écoles Conventionnées Islamiques)
  • Salutist schools (French: Écoles Conventionnées Salutistes)
  • Brotherhood schools (French: Écoles Conventionnées de la Fraternité)
  • others

The first three groups make up about 80% of the primary schools and 75% of secondary schools. A minority of 12% of the schools are private. Though 65% of preschools are private schools.3

Armed conflicts

Years of civil war has left millions displaced and the government shattered throughout the different regions. With one of the world’s deadliest civil wars happening the chaos surrounding the entire country has earned the label of Humanitarian Crisis. With over 1.9 million people displaced since the beginning of current civil war many have had to migrate farther and farther from cities and towns in order stay alive.

The largest issue with the educational problem in the DRC is that the children and families are afraid to go to school. The rebel armies of the DRC such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda and the National Congress for the Defence of the People are infamous for their use of child soldiers.citation needed Schools are one of the main ways these children are abducted and enslaved by these groups.

International organizations

The poor state of the educational system in place several international organizations are looking to help improve the situation. The lack of help and resources internally has forced the DRC to ask for help from the outside world.


The biggest international supporter of educational programs in the region is the United Nations (UN). Unfortunately the UN has had to deal with large fluctuations in commitment for aid for the DRC in the past decade. In 2002 the international commitment was less than 100 million USD and in 2007 it peaked above 250 million USD. On top of this uncertainty from donors the UN also has to deal with the local end of corruption and embezzlement of the funds raised. In 2008 2% of the total funds raised for education never made it to the teachers and children that desperately need it. With all of these issues there is more research being done with how to focus the funding on what the country’s children currently need.6


A major project that is devoted to the educational problems is Opportunities for Equitable Access to High Quality Basic Education (OPEQ). This organization of researchers studies into different countries’ current systems and can make recommendations for current systems based their findings. The DRC is very interesting case study for OPEQ because it gives a real life perspective on a heavily war torn nation. After researching 203 schools from Katanga the researchers found what the current educational system needs to focus more on. Math and English were the top under taught subjects. The national language of French was not being taught enough with many children only speaking the region’s language of Kingwana. With these results OPEQ predicts that the Congolese children have the ability to improve their reading and math scores up to 30% in the coming year of 2013. These optimistic predictions are a sign that this failed educational system is slowly recovering with the help of the scientists and researchers, international community, and the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.7


Another major supporter of education in the DRC is the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF). Although the organization has suffered from extreme under funding, UNICEF is still trying to bring emergency safe education to the local children. In North Kivu alone, UNICEF has identified 258 schools which have been looted and/or burnt following attacks and following their occupation by armed groups, imperiling the start of the school year in September for 60,000 children. Despite global recognition of the importance of education in emergencies, education still remains greatly underfunded. UNICEF has only been able to raise 8% of their total goal of 8 million dollars. This funding would allow 228,000 children access to safe and protective education. This would include: establishment of temporary learning spaces, adaptation of the school calendar; reinsertion of children into an appropriate learning environment, psychosocial and recreational activities; awareness raising on life-saving and life-sustaining messages, training of teachers on psychosocial support, peace education and class management, and provision of teaching and learning materials and catch-up classes.8 Education is a critical protective tool to build preparedness and resilience against future disasters in an ever-changing environment.



City: Kinshasa

Colleges and universities

Research centers and institutes

  • Centre régional d'études nucléaires de Kinshasa (CREN-K)
  • Centre d'études égyptologiques Cheik Anta Diop de l'INADEP -formation et recherche
  • Centre d'Études des Religions Africaines (CERA)
  • Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature, ICCN
  • Institut Africain d'Études Prospectives - INADEP


  1. ^ Constitution de la République démocratique du Congo - Wikisource
  2. ^ a b "Congo, Democratic Republic of the". 2005 Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor. Bureau of International Labor Affairs, U.S. Department of Labor (2006). This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ a b "Annuaire Statistique de l'Enseignement Primaire Secondaire et Professionnel Annee Scolaire 2009-2010". Ministère de l'Enseignement primaire, secondaire et professionnel. Retrieved 7 May 2013. 
  4. ^ UIS. (2010). Education aid flows to conflict-affected countries . United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, 20-24.
  5. ^ Central Intelligence Agency. (2013, 04 10). Congo, The Democratic Republic of. Retrieved from CIA World Factbook:
  6. ^ UIS. (2011). The Hidden Crisis: Armed Conflict and Education . United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization, 20-24.
  7. ^ Aber, D. L. (2012). Cluster randomized trial of a large-scale education initiative in the Democratic Republic of Congo: Baseline findings and lessons. Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness.
  8. ^ UNICEF. (2012). UNICEF Humanitarian Update Democratic Repuclic of Congo. New York: United Nations.

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