Despite the recurrent instability, the country’s sustained economic growth and political commitment to education offers a unique opportunity to increase access to primary education. The government has already committed to increasing the budget for education to 20 percent of total government spending in 2015.
However, today it is estimated that 3.5 million children of primary school age are not in school, and 2 million of them will never have the chance to enroll if there is not a significant change in educational policy. The education sector faces several challenges:
Access: Although the financial barrier of school fees has been removed, the elimination of fees alone is not sufficient to provide schooling for all children. School fees are not the only obstacle to schooling. In general, one can distinguish two groups of excluded people: the victims of social stigmatization (e.g., girls, street children, disabled children, HIV-positive children) and groups with a different “lifestyle” (e.g. indigenous populations, villages in isolated rural areas, refugees, displaces families). Much remains to be done to reach these excluded groups and individuals, particularly on the operational side.
Quality: A recent study showed that 68 percent of children in grades 3 and 4 were unable to read a single word in a simple text. Without improving the quality of education, progress in terms of access to school will be in vain.
Stability: The DRC is a post conflict country where pockets of insecurity- particularly in its eastern part- continue to destabilize the life of the people. Numerous schools have been occupied, pillaged, and/ or destroyed by armed groups, thus depriving children of educational resources.
Three proposals were discussed during the Learning for All Ministerial meetings, including:
- Proposal 1: Generalize the policy of free primary education. Financing the most important school fees (estimated at about $200 million per year) is a precondition for access to or retention in school for more than 2 million children.
- Proposal 2: Rehabilitation of infrastructure and School equipment that Was Destroyed or Has Deteriorated Due to Conflict
- Proposal 3: Reform of initial training of primary School teachers
- Proposal 4: monitoring and assessing learning outcomes
Photo Credit: IRC