Authorities in the Democratic Republic of Congo have revealed that there has been substantial progress in the education sector the past few years.
This was said by the Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon, while officiating as the guest of honor at the Global Education for All Meeting organized by UNESCO in Muscat, Oman, from May 12, 2014 to yesterday evening.
In his closing speech, the Prime Minister stressed in particular the progress made in terms of school attendance and literacy in the Democratic Republic of Congo in recent years. Consequently, the gross attendance rate increased from 83.7% in 2007 to 101% in 2012 at primary school level, with pupil numbers increasing from 8.8 million to 12.6 million over the same time period.
“It is essential to focus on basic education as it is the foundation of a nation and ensures the transformation of society. Improvement of governance in the education sector additionally guarantees the quality of education,” insisted Mapon who pointed out that expenditure on education had increased from 6% of the national budget in 2007 to 16.04% in 2014.
In April 2013, the Congolese government notably launched a Reconstruction and Renovation of School Infrastructure Programme (PRRIS) with funding of $100 million. Its objective is the construction or renovation of 1,000 schools across the entire country; and to date, 180 schools have already been delivered and 580 are under construction or renovation.
Education, which is a fundamental condition for the economic and social development of a country due to the fact that it enables consolidation of human skills and capabilities, is a priority in the DRC. Some of the key measures undertaken in recent years include in particular the provision of free primary education implemented in 2010, the creation of study grants for young girls, the provision of 18 million school books, and the construction of Educational Resource Centres for teacher training with the support of the French Development Agency (AFD) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID).
A new framework law on national education was also enacted on February 11, 2014 and a Mutual Healthcare Insurance Organisation for teaching staff was established. It should also be noted that the banking system for the payment of civil servants, and therefore teaching staff, launched in 2011 and rolled out in 2013 across the entire country, has contributed significantly towards improving the living standards of teachers.
“Thanks to the support of the Head of State, Joseph Kabila Kabange, my government has made basic education, the inclusion of girls in the education system and better conditions for teachers key priority areas,” the Prime Minister stated.
In her address, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, welcomed these displays and achievements made nationally in the education sector. She “congratulated” the Democratic Republic of Congo, represented by the Prime Minister, Augustin Matata Ponyo Mapon, for this “commitment to build a more effective and inclusive education system, so as to provide free primary education for all through the construction of 1,000 new classrooms and teacher training, with the UNESCO program funded by China”.