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Universities in DR Congo

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About universities in DR Congo

The Democratic Republic of Congo, commonly referred to as the DR Congo, is a large country in Central Africa, with a total geographic area of over 905,000 square miles, making it the second largest country in Africa by area, following Angola, and the 11th largest country in the world.  Its population of 71 million is the fourth-largest in Africa and the 19th largest globally, and the country is the largest French-speaking country in the world.
A former colony of Belgium, the DR Congo gained independence in 1960, and for nearly 30 years the country continuously made strides in improving its education system, particularly in the expansion of its higher education system which provided greater access to all eligible students.  Progress, however, came to a halt in 1998 with the outbreak of the Second Congo War, a war that involved nine African nations and some twenty armed groups. The war caused devastation throughout the DR Congo, including the destruction of many of the nation’s schools, and despite signing a peace accord in 2003, the fighting continues to this day, including the rape and sexual violence against women that’s described as the worst in the world.  To date over 5.4 million lives have been lost due to the Second Congo War, the most in any war since World War II.
Higher Education in the DR Congo
Due to the violence and destruction that has plagued the DR Congo for the past 10-14 years higher education in the country has been virtually non-existent, with only 1 percent of eligible secondary school graduates seeking a university degree.  However, in recent years the enrollment numbers have begun to improve slightly and the new government has stated that it plans to make higher education one of its main priorities in the years going forward.  Today the government spends nearly 4 percent of the country’s budget on education, which includes the compulsory primary level, as well as the optional secondary and tertiary levels.
There are currently 380 institutions of higher education in the DR Congo, including four publicly funded universities, 147 publicly funded polytechnics or specialized colleges, 227 privately funded, accredited universities and colleges, and two lower vocational institutions. The universities in the country, both public and private, are considered comprehensive, meaning they offer undergraduate and graduate degrees in a number of academic and professional fields.  The specialized colleges and polytechnics, on the other hand, tend to focus on only one or two fields of study that typically lead to a diploma or certification in a specific career important to the DR Congo’s economy.   Advanced education is also available in fields such as medicine, pharmacy, law, veterinary medicine and engineering, and teacher training for those wishing to instruct at either the primary or secondary level is also available through one of the many specialized colleges.
Like in many countries in Central Africa, the people of the DR Congo are very poor, with most working as subsistence farmers and living well below the poverty line.  As a result, higher education is not a main priority for most of these families, as most heads of household prefer that children stay home and help economically.  According to statistics, only 22 percent of the eligible population receives a secondary education in the DR Congo, and of those that do, only half will earn the required diploma needed for entrance into one of the country’s higher education institutions.