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DRC: school education, free of charge VS quality (Raïssa Malu)

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DRC: school education, free of charge VS quality (Raïssa Malu)

[TRIBUNE] – Back in school, it’s about 3 weeks and at the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Professional Education (EPSP), it is currently the effervescence. The 2019-2020 school year is being prepared under the following theme: « Good governance of the education system and effective leadership in the implementation of free basic education ». An entire program !

Before, it was « quality ». Today, the word you will hear on everyone’s lips is « free ». We wish it, we dread it and we do not care too much. « Do we have the means to set up free education in the DRC?  »

I assure you (or I will disappoint you), I will not answer this question here. No. Because all actors and specialists in education meet in Kinshasa next week to discuss at the second national forum on free basic education. And immediately after, from August 21st to 24th, the national and provincial executives of the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education will participate in the National School Promotion Assizes 2019 (an event organized every year) to decline this program in action.

Instead, I suggest you dive once again into the heart of the Congolese education system to discover the many facets. (This was the program I had set for the dry season or summer months.)

Recently, a friend (benevolent) shared with me a report on a primary school in a certain village in the north of the country built of forest materials (said modestly in the documentary). The school is modestly equipped (a euphemism). The six « classes » have a kind of picture. Most of the children come there barefoot. Many are absent because their parents are unable to pay school fees of 1000 FC and 1500 FC depending on the level (about 0.59 USD and 0.89 USD).

In these places, teachers spend a significant portion of their salary (less than $ 100) on the move to touch it at the « nearest » center. And I do not talk about many problems of insecurity if the village has the misfortune to be in a strategic area, rich in some natural resources for example.

The day before, I had a work meeting where my colleagues told me about their visit to a state-of-the-art school complex recently inaugurated in another province in the south of the country. They were impressed, because within the walls of the school, WiFi is available for free for everyone. The school offers digital classes. The different sections and options are all equipped with teaching aids. The school has access to water and electricity (should I mention it?). And teachers receive each end of the month a sack of flour in addition to their salary (in our regions, it is a definite advantage).

Across the country, the first situation is much more common than the second (for now). But, you also have a good share of schools, mainly in urban or semi-urban areas, which are in the panoply of intermediate situations. This gives you an idea of ​​the big gaps that agents and actors within the Ministry of the EPSP have to make daily.

Faced with such situations, the current reaction is sadness, indignation and anger. Who are the responsibles ? What does the government do ? What is the purpose of funding education? we cry out. Yet, school is not an isolated system of society. If the society has difficulties, the school has difficulties. If society thrives, well, do you think the school can still have problems? I explain to you.

The problem that « keeps me awake » is that parents entrust us with millions of children each year (and they will give us millions more if the free measure is applied) and many of these children, when they leave our education system they have barely learned more than if they chose to stay at home. It’s sick, is not it?

Looking to get back to sleep, I immersed myself in the book of Sir Ken Robinson, renowned English specialist in education, « Change the school: the revolution that will transform education. » And as I finally began to relax, I came across this: « If you run an education system based on standardization and conformism, which aims to suppress individuality, imagination and creativity, do not be surprised that he succeeds.

It had the effect of a bomb on me. It’s like he said, « Auntie. Here you are agitating to improve the quality of science and mathematics education thinking that you will train Congolese and Congolese, but you can not do it! Perhaps you will reach the level of the industrialized countries, but it will be to better suffer the setbacks of their own system. At that moment, you know, we start frantically turning the pages of the book to assess the extent of the damage (Doctor, will I die?).

The educational system that we have all widely adopted is modeled on the model of mass production, the model of the factory: same program, same pedagogy and students are evaluated by the yardstick of a single standard. It’s funny, do not you think? We have adopted a system based on a model for the moment that is almost non-existent in our African societies. It’s as if we had put the cart before the horse.

A standardized system has no other purpose than to standardize (but where did we head?) And when we want one thing and its opposite, here is what we harvest: an alarming rate of non-graduates, the disinterestedness of students in certain subjects (science and mathematics, for example), demotivation of teachers (even suicide), decline in the value of university degrees, increased cost of studies, increased unemployment among both graduates and non-graduates. It sticks to African countries, is not it? However, these are also the problems that we find in countries where standardized education systems have been invented and work best overall …

In Africa, we want (exaggerated) worship (academic) and standardized tests, such as the State Exam that our students pass at the end of secondary school. However, specialists note that « the entrepreneurial qualities of a country are inversely proportional to its success in standardized tests. Ah, ah, are not the entrepreneurial qualities the ones we would like to give to all our young people in Africa? (But let them stop all wanting to become public servants and create their own jobs, please). But, while they are important in the contexts of our countries, there is something more important.

Let’s forget for a moment this distinction between industrialized countries and in the process of being. Today, the major challenges of our societies are the same: climate change, preservation of resources, data protection, artificial intelligence, etc. Rich and poor countries, multinationals and SMEs, we all need men and women who can adapt quickly to change and are able to generate new ideas.

To do this, Sir Ken Robinson strikes us not to seek to fix, but to change, not to seek to reform, but to transform our educational systems. How? « To change the education system, it is important to know the nature » (that’s why I knock you out of these articles) and « the education system has a strong potential for innovation, » he says. « It’s not about doing better than before. We must do otherwise.  »

The young people (girls and boys) I meet in the Democratic Republic of Congo are ready for innovation. And we, the administrations, the teachers, the politicians, the civil society, the private sector, the technical and financial partners, are we ready to innovate? Epilogue

And me, did I sleep again? Yes and no. The new Science Learning Domain programs developed by the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education offer a pedagogical approach that aims to value what the child, teachers and communities know and possess. The goal is to give students the desire to learn. The approach is to work with those inside the education system to change it.

Only, it is useful that we keep in mind these words of Sir Ken Robinson: « Education is not done in the hemicycles nor through the rhetoric of politicians. It results from what happens between students and teachers at school.  »

Science is fun, join us! 😊

PS The cover image of the article was produced by the Permanent Secretary for Support and Coordination of the Education Sector (SPACE). To help you understand, it takes the main reforms underway in the education system in the Democratic Republic of Congo for each level of education. I like this image and I have a lot of fun working and collaborating with the actors of our education system. 😊

As we say here too, we are together! 😊

Raïssa MALU, international consultant in Education

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DRC: USD 100 million for the construction of the major cultural centre for Central Africa

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DRC: USD 100 million for the construction of the major cultural centre for Central Africa

Prime Minister Ilunkamba has just authorized, on Monday, October 14, 2019, the Minister of Urban Planning and Housing Then Mwabilu and the Minister of State for International Cooperation Guillaume Manjolo to sign two orders.

This, after his visit to the site where the great Cultural and Artistic Centre of Central Africa will be built as well as the INA Buildings, the National Institute of Arts, where he ordered the resumption of work.

DRC: USD 100 million for the construction of the major cultural centre for Central Africa

The first decree concerns the postponement of the decree of 14 October 2016 and the second concerns the decommissioning of a portion of land in favour of Sino-Congolese cooperation.

The Chinese company BEIJING URBAN CONSTRUCTION GROUP is in charge of building this large Centre for 30 months. The cost of the work is estimated at US$100 million.

After this visit to the field, the head of the Ilunga Ilunkamba Government himself presided over the signing ceremony of these two ministerial decrees for the implementation of the Chinese government’s donation to the DRC.

 

There was talk of ending the superposition of orders first by repealing the one that granted the same concession to Richesse Taylor.

DRC: USD 100 million for the construction of the major cultural centre for Central Africa

It should be noted that the cultural and artistic centre, one of the largest in Central Africa, will constitute, according to the Minister of State for Cooperation Guillaume Mandjolo, an innovative source for the public treasury and restore the DRC’s position as a leader in the world of African culture.

This large Centre will be located between the triumphal boulevard and Assossa avenues, a few metres from the People’s Palace.

The construction of this important cultural building includes the large 2,000-seat theatre, the small 800-seat theatre, meeting rooms, the gymnasium and a car park.

Nadine FULA

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DRC: in 2020, Goma will host the « NiNyumbani » development fair

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DRC: in 2020, Goma will host the "NiNyumbani" development fair

The capital of North Kivu province will host in 2020, a development fair entitled: « NINYUMBANI », which means « at home » in Swahili. It is the initiative of a young native of Greater Kivu, Marc Lanoy Kasongo, entrepreneur and founder of OPLUS, a communication, marketing and advertising company.

« NiNyumbani » is an event that brings together different decision-makers from the DRC and the Great Lakes Region around reflections aimed at a clear and achievable future.

It is a platform whose mission is to create a common front against the many challenges related to unemployment, education, access to electricity and water, as well as agricultural and road infrastructure.

This exhibition, which is part of a community development process, is organized once a year around a central theme on which different themes focus on economic opportunities and emerging concerns in the region in order to propose practical solutions that can be applied at cost, in the medium and long term.

This activity is expected to welcome 500 exhibitors from different fields of activity; among others, economic operators, entrepreneurs, state institutions, banks, start-up managers, incubators, civil society and universities, opinion leaders, etc.

In addition to exhibitions, the programme also includes conferences.

DRC: in 2020, Goma will host the "NiNyumbani" development fair« This fair is also being set up to give a new image to our Dear City of Goma and the long-suffering province of North Kivu, whose image is being tarnished both inside and outside the country. We want to demonstrate here the potential of our province, and what we can bring to the development of our country, » explained Marc L. Kasongo, who is in Kinshasa for contacts around the organization of this major Rendez-vous.

To him he added, « we also want to give everyone, whatever their social rank, the opportunity to come and present their products and services, because we aim for development at the grassroots level. NINYUMBANI is our common home, » added the initiator of the activity.

For Marc Lanoy Kasongo, several results are expected from this exhibition.

The aim is to propose solutions to the fundamental development challenges in Greater Kivu and the DRC; to propose new business, industry and investment opportunities and strategies in Greater Kivu and the DRC; to create partnerships between stakeholders; to connect decision-makers in the sub-region; and to create a practical solution through work.

This exhibition, whose date remains to be determined, can only be possible thanks to the contribution of the Congolese, from which Marc Kasongo solicits the involvement of the authorities and mainly the Head of State, who has made the promotion of youth his main concern.

Harris KASONGO

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Global: Global value chains have stimulated growth but the momentum is running out of steam!

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Global: Global value chains have stimulated growth but the momentum is running out of steam!

The World Bank Group published a new report on October 8, 2019 in Washington, D.C., USA. This World Development Report 2020 focuses on trade for development in an era of globalized value chains. It details strategies that will enable developing countries to improve their performance for the benefit of their populations by undertaking reforms that will stimulate their participation in global value chains.

The paper highlights that global value chains or GVCs can continue to stimulate growth, create better jobs and reduce poverty, provided that developing countries undertake deeper reforms and that industrialized countries implement open and predictable policies.

It clearly shows that in an era of globalization, companies can no longer do everything, they specialize and no longer have to produce the entirety of a good on their own.

This book assesses the contribution of VCMs to growth, employment and poverty reduction, but also to inequality and environmental degradation. It also explains how national policies can boost trade growth and ensure that VCMs participate in, rather than oppose, sustainable development. It identifies the shortcomings of the international trading system that have led to dissension between countries, and proposes a roadmap for addressing them through enhanced international cooperation.

This report reveals that it is no longer so obvious today that trade remains an engine of prosperity, this World Bank report points out. Since the 2008 global financial crisis, trade growth has been sluggish and VCM expansion has slowed. The last decade has not seen transformative events comparable to those of the 1990s. Here we are referring to the integration of China and Eastern Europe into the global economy. Two factors are at the root of this slowdown. First, the introduction of labour-saving technologies such as automation and 3D printing could bring production closer to the consumer and reduce the demand for labour both within and outside countries. Secondly, trade conflicts between large countries could lead to a contraction or segmentation of VCMs.

According to this report, global value chains have a positive impact on development.
First, they increase productivity and growth: a 1% increase in participation in global value chains is estimated to increase per capita income by more than 1%, almost twice as much as the gains induced by traditional trade. In Ethiopia, companies engaged in these globalized sectors are twice as productive as their counterparts operating in traditional trade.

Second, they reduce poverty: since the impact of the rise of global value chains on economic growth is greater than that of trade in finished products, their impact on poverty reduction is also greater. Countries such as Mexico and Viet Nam, which are more actively involved in global value chains, have achieved better results in the fight against poverty.

Third, they improve the quality of jobs: firms operating in global value chains attract labour to more productive activities in manufacturing and services, and generally employ more women, thus contributing to the structural transformation of developing countries.
In addition to these positive effects, however, it is noted that VCMs can also have negative effects on the environment. The main environmental costs for VCMs are related to the growth in trade in intermediate goods, and the increase in distances travelled, compared to traditional trade. Their effects include increased carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions associated with transportation (compared to traditional trade) and excess waste.

Nadine Fula

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