May 9th, 2014 – Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo – Over 70,000 Congolese teachers are now able to access resource and training centers in Katanga, North Kivu, South Kivu and Kinshasa, as part of increasing efforts to improve the overall quality of teaching across the country, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) said today.
The current reading and mathematics skills amongst Congolese children are far below national standards, largely because teachers have not received the adequate training and support needed to provide quality instruction. Accordingly, the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Professional Education (MESP) has prioritized teacher professional development in their reform strategy coming up to 2015. USAID is supporting the effort through the program called Opportunities for Equitable Access to Quality Basic Education (OPEQ). Managed by the IRC, it is designed to improve teaching methods in reading, writing and maths and to train teachers to strengthen the social and emotional well being of children growing up in a post-conflict environment so they can learn.
Three new teacher resource centers funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and constructed by the IRC have been inaugurated and handed over to the Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Professional Education (MEPSP) and the Governor of Katanga. A total of 14 teacher resources centers are now operational in seven provinces across DRC, in addition to more than 70 teacher learning centers funded by USAID over the past five years.
“Teachers, school directors, inspectors and other education personnel are excited about these new centers”, explains Dr. Aissatou Balde, OPEQ Chief of Party. “These centers will develop a culture of learning and development within the education system, where teachers share their experiences, receive training, and access teaching resources”.
Dr. Aissatou Balde says the DRC is making significant incremental progress to improve access to a quality education, but still has a long way to go to bridge the education gap between rural and urban schools and to ensure that the poorest children are not left out. Intensive, long-term efforts are still needed to ensure that Congolese children and youth are equipped with the education and skills to lead and support the country’s economic development.
Over the last four years, with funding from USAID and in collaboration with the DRC’s Ministry of Education, the IRC has mounted a systematic effort to increase opportunities for equitable access to quality basic education for Congolese children and youth through the OPEQ project. USAID through OPEQ has supported the MEPSP to develop a comprehensive national in-service primary teacher training policy and tested a model of primary teacher development in 355 schools. Since September 2010, the project has supported over 353,000 boys and girls in 355 primary schools and 7,972 young people in the informal education sector.
The IRC has worked in the DRC since 1996, responding to ongoing emergency needs in the east while working with relevant authorities to improve education for children, strengthen health services, support community-driven reconstruction, and empower and protect women.
The IRC works with local communities, authorities and the national government to strengthen local capacity to address ongoing challenges in the country. Almost all IRC staff—96 percent—are Congolese and have a strong understanding of local needs and best practices.
Contact: Tamara Leigh (IRC Kinshasa)
T: 243-9952-0004, E: Tamara.Leigh@Rescue.org
Lucy Carrigan (IRC New York)
T: 212-551-0969, E: Lucy.Carrigan@Rescue.org