After decades of fragility and conflict, the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo has allied itself with several partners to create the country’s first education sector plan in the hope of ushering in a new era of peace and prosperity.
The Challenge: An Incapacitated Education System
Since its independence in 1960, the Democratic Republic of Congo has experienced a series of conflicts that have thwarted development and negatively affected public financing for education. This situation led to a big increase in school fees, in part to pay for teacher salaries. This extra financial burden that had to be shouldered by families, coupled with poor infrastructure and other socioeconomic and cultural factors, are responsible for 3.5 million children of primary school age not being in school in 2012.
The Solution: DRC's First Education Sector Plan
The Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Technical Education has adopted a holistic strategy for education sector development. The DRC government set up a task force of stakeholders from government departments, donors, and civil society to create an Interim Education Plan (2012-2014) as part of the process of joining the Global Partnership.
The Interim Education Plan, which is the country’s first education sector plan, aims to accelerate the achievement of universal primary education. The process of creating the interim plan and securing the endorsement of development partners has strengthened collaboration within the country, particularly with civil society organizations and unions. This approach is considered an innovative example of good practice.
The Democratic Republic of Congo joined the Global Partnership in June 2012 and received a Program Implementation Grant of $100 million in November 2012.
The Result: Free Education for Congolese Children
One of the most emblematic measures of the GPE-supported plan was to abolish the costs that have made primary education unaffordable for millions of families, including teachers’ wage supplements, administrative and school operating expenses, and examination fees. To reach this goal, the government made education a priority: the domestic budget for education increased from almost nothing in the 1980s to 9.5 percent in 2011 and to more than 14 percent in 2013.
The government has committed to allocating 15 percent of its budget to education by 2015. Thanks to this national commitment and with a solid plan in place, the Global Partnership and other development partners can help DRC transform an education system ravaged by conflict to one that is a central pillar of the government’s plan to reduce chronic poverty and promote economic development and peace.