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Learning to deliver quality education

For decades, the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) endured political instability and civil war. Children’s education suffered. Almost 27% (3.5M) of children of primary school age in 2016 did not go to school, 44% of those who did attend started late and just two-thirds completed their education to sixth grade.

Project ACCELERE! 2, Democratic Republic of the Congo

Client UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, USAID

Expertise Governance, capacity building, education, community engagement

ACCELERE! is a five-year programme, funded jointly by UK aid and USAID, to improve education in eight provinces across DRC, including those most affected by conflict and displacement.

It has three main objectives: better access and equity for both girls and boys, higher levels of reading and numeracy, and strengthened governance and accountability at national, provincial and school levels. Our team at Cambridge Education is working with a range of stakeholders – from government bodies to civil society organisations and local communities – to raise standards.

So far, we’ve helped to develop strategies and polices to support change, introduced tools to aid planning, monitoring and reporting, delivered training and workshops to share knowledge and best practice, and produced new, and better teaching materials. Ultimately, ACCELERE! aims to improve learning outcomes for one million Congolese girls and boys.

ACCELERE is helping to raise standards and participation. Our team supported the Ministry of Education to develop a set of minimum school standards, focusing on access, quality and governance, and worked on improving access and retention at primary school level by working on removing financial barriers to education. Over the past three years, we supported six provinces to stabilise and reduce school fees for primary school, and increased transparency and accountability on how the fees collected are used.

Training for education officials has seen more gender sensitive annual action plans and indicators introduced, and has demonstrated the importance of providing equal opportunities to female staff – improving the recruitment and promotion of women in education management offices, and agreeing a minimum 30% target.

DRC is rich in mineral resources and has the potential to become one of the richest economies on the continent and be a driver of wider African growth. Better quality education is key to economic progress. Our cost of education study has helped to improve budget planning, supporting four of our six targeted provinces to successfully lobby for additional resources. All six have now produced provincial education strategies to guide annual planning and budgeting work.

School fees were a considerable burden on many households. We adopted an incremental and holistic approach to reduce the financial barriers facing children accessing primary education, providing evidence on the scale of the problem, collecting data on what’s happening in schools, and, for the first time in DRC, presented a study outlining the unit costs of the education system. In 2019, the new DRC president announced free basic education and we are now supporting central and provincial level officials to implement the policy.

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