Raissa Malu

DRC as you have never seen it!

The inventory of optional subjects offered by secondary schools.

When you are told about the Democratic Republic of Congo, you are told about its immense natural resources, its continental size, its wars and violence, its politics, its singers and artists, its neighbours and, fortunately, its women and men in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics 😊.

Another favourite topic of discussion is its education system, which some people like to call (too quickly) mediocre. I do not share this view (we need to be more nuanced). First, because I am aware of the ongoing process and second, because I can give you many concrete examples where we could talk about excellence rather than mediocrity. But I will not address this point in this article. No. Here, I propose you to discover the Democratic Republic of Congo through its educational offer at the secondary level. After all, we want to know where we can enroll our teenagers according to their abilities and/or choices (and often our own).

Geolocation of schools

The data presented here are taken from the geolocation of secondary schools carried out by the Education for Quality and Relevance of Secondary and University Education Project within the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education (MEPSP). This operation made it possible to distribute the 18,000 scientific kits that support the new programmes in the Science Learning Domain. About 80% of secondary schools were geolocated between October and November 2018.

The main difficulty encountered was insecurity in some areas of the country making schools inaccessible to ministry teams. A second geolocation campaign for primary schools and higher and university education institutions is planned from September 2019 on.

Educational offer

The data collected cover in particular the sections and optional subjects proposed in schools, the number of pupils, the number of teachers, mobile network coverage, means of travel and transport costs. What have we learned about secondary education provision in the DRC? What I'm delivering here is brand new! 😊

By educational offer, we mean here the sections, optional subjects and their number, proposed by schools in the provinces of the country. According to data collected to date, overall, the educational offer in the DRC amounts to 57,150 secondary education opportunities. These are distributed as follows according to sections/optional subjects:

Offre educative

Public and private

Let's start with the distinction between public and private offers. By public offer, we mean the one offered by public schools, including conventional schools (Catholic, Protestant, etc.). A Congolese peculiarity! The private offer is offered by private schools. In the DRC, we have 67% of public offers overall compared to 33% of private offers. But the details by province are interesting. In the DRC, we have 26 administrative provinces. If you need a map of the provinces of the DRC to follow, you can find some on https://bisonews.com/les-26-provinces-de-la-rdc/

The two provinces with the highest educational opportunities are Kwilu (capital Kikwit) (7,284 offers) and Kinshasa (7,274 offers). However, it is in Haut-Katanga (capital Lubumbashi) that there is the highest proportion of private offers (83% private versus 17% public). In Kinshasa, it's not bad either with 80% of private offers against 20% of public offers! The most strongly reversed proportion is in Kwilu with 94% of public offers against 6% of private offers. This province has a large number of registered schools.

Offre educative haut Katanga

Pedagogy is over-represented

Concerning the distribution of educational offer according to the sections and optional subjects organized in our schools, what strikes us is the (exaggerated) proportion of offers in the Pedagogy section (18,596, or 33% of the total educational offer). It is in this section that we train primary school teachers, for example. It would be perceived (wrongly) by school responsibles as requiring a minimum investment and therefore "easy to offer". By caricaturing, it's: a classroom (or something that looks alike), a teacher, students, barely the official programme, here is a Pedagogy section! Fortunately, a reform is underway in this regard within the Ministry of EPSP.

Offre section pedagogique

Amazing proportions

Surprisingly, the Commercial optional subject represents only 9% of the total offer and Literature only 5%! For the Scientific section, the Bio-Chemistry optional subject represents 13% of the total offer while the Math-Physics optional subject represents only 2%! This is one of the reasons why the experts from the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education have proposed the merger of these two options to create the Scientific Humanities with a more complete training of our students. In this regard, I invite you to read my previous post about Women in STEMs in the DRC. The champions of the Scientific offer are Kinshasa (1,918 offers), Kwilu (1,210) and Haut-Katanga (804). The bottom trio with the fewest possibilities for this section is formed by the Haut-Lomami (96), the Tshuapa (63) and the Bas-Uele (31).

About the Technical and Professional sections, let's look at the Agricultural section. A priori, it should be a priority in a country with 80 million hectares of arable land, of which only about 10% would be used (but that does not mean that we should use everything!). It represents only 8% of the total offer and the ranking of the provinces is Kwilu (764 offers), North Kivu (763) and Kwango (496). Not surprisingly, Kinshasa is the last one in this field with only 17 offers for the Agricultural Technology section. If you are in the region and your child wants to enrol in Agricultural Technology, he or she should be sent to Central Kong or Kwango. There will be more choices.

Training Congolese artists

In this table of educational offer in the DRC, there are two mysteries: the Computer Technology section and the Artistic Technology section. Let's start with the latter. I told you in the introduction that we were, we Congolese, famous for our musicians and artists. Next to the stars, we have a host of artists, singers who enhance our karaoke evenings in bars.

But where are they trained? Throughout the country, you have only 80 offers for the Artistic Technique section, the largest proportion of which is in Haut-Katanga (31%). In Kinshasa, you only have 8! I think it should be increased. Why wait for Fine Arts at the higher education level to train them? We know that our young people like it. Moreover, the trend for us in STEMs is to move to STEAMs for Sciences, Technologies, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics. It is therefore in my opinion counterproductive to propose nothing (or too little) as an Artistic Technique offer.

Not enough IT

The IT optional subject in the Technical section is a newly created optional subject in our education system. I still have to study all the content, but it is a necessity. Indeed, we absolutely must develop a digital culture among all, young and old, from 3 to 99 years old. But, some of us must specialize in developing, creating, assembling, maintaining, decommissioning and/or recycling. But how can we explain that there are only 390 offers available and that it is in Kwilu (103 offers), Sankuru (42) and Kasai (37) that they are the most numerous? In Kinshasa, where the environment would be more favourable (electricity, equipment, teachers, spare parts, customers, etc.), there are only 6 offers available! In Haut-Katanga, there are only two of them!

This brings us to Internet access in our schools. During the geolocation of schools, we collected data on mobile network coverage.

Reseau mobile

82% of geolocated schools are covered by one or more mobile networks, despite the problems observed in terms of quality and network coverage in some places! That's very good news. This allows us to consider strategies to improve system management, quality and educational provision with mobile solutions.

An enlightening description

The geolocation of schools offers a tremendous amount of information. Our objective was only to know where the schools are located to provide them with their scientific kit. We discovered our country, its realities, challenges and opportunities. This has made us more humble, but also stronger and more confident about the future. Because every challenge is an opportunity to understand, learn, plan, do better and agree to give up when nothing can be done better right now.

I would end with this quote, the author of which I no longer know: "If you cannot love me, at least try to understand me." Thank you.

Science is fun, join us!

This post has first been published on LinkedIn. It has been translated in French by Afriscitech.



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