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The Democratic Republic of the Congo, also known as DR Congo, Congo-Kinshasa or DRC, is a large country located in Central Africa, with a total land area of just over 905,000 square miles. This area makes it the second largest geographic country in Africa, after Algeria, and the eleventh largest in the world. The Democratic Republic of the Congo shares borders with the Central African Republic and South Sudan to the north, Uganda, Burundi and Rwanda to the east, Angola and Zambia to the south, the Republic of the Congo (Congo), Cabinda and the Atlantic Ocean in the west and is separated in the east from Tanzania by Lake Tonguyicka.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo is still recovering from the devastation caused by the Second Congo War, the deadliest conflict in the world since the Second World War, involving nine African nations and over 20 armed groups. The war resulted in over 5.4 million casualties, many of which were caused by the effects of malaria, diarrhea, malnutrition and pneumonia.
The population of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is roughly 66 million, up from 39.1 million in 1992, despite the protracted war. A multi-ethnic country, DR Congo is home to over 250 ethnic groups, with the most numerous being the Kongo, Luba and Mongo people. Aborigines of the DR Congo, called Pygmies, number approximately 600,000. French is the official language of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, mainly because it’s an ethnically neutral language which eases communication between the various ethnic groups. Intermediary languages, including Swahili, Lingala, Tshiluba and Kongo are also widely spoken. Over 96 percent of the population is Christian, half of who practice Roman Catholicism. The Protestant Church of Christ denomination is also gaining in popularity.
Education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
The education system in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is governed and administered by three separate government ministries, one that oversees primary education, secondary education and higher education respectively.
The structure and content of education in DR Congo is similar to that in Belgium, and includes a broad curriculum in which students receive instruction in science, language (French), mathematics, history, geography, art, music and sport. There are currently 19,000 primary schools in the DR Congo serving 160,000 students and 8,000 secondary schools serving a little over 110,000 students.
Although primary education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo is free and compulsory for all children between the ages of 6 and 14, statistics show that only 65 percent of children attend school, a rate that is substantially lower in the rural and poorer areas of the country. Due to the six-year war that ravaged The Democratic Republic of the Congo, with fighting that continues to this day, over 5.2 million children receive no education whatsoever. Resources, including textbooks, school materials and teachers, have dwindled over the past few years as the country strives to improve enrollment rates and increase access to education at all levels.
The current literacy rate reported by the Democratic Republic of the Congo is 60 percent—a figure the United Nations estimates is significantly lower.