Education Fact Sheet


The Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) education system is plagued by low coverage and poor quality. 3.5 million children of primary school age are not in school, and of those who do attend, 44 percent start school late, after the age of six. National data indicate that only 67 percent of children who enter first grade will complete sixth grade. Of those who reach 6th grade, only 75 percent will pass the exit exam.

The Ministry of Education (MOE) is one of the most reform-focused ministries in the DRC. The Minister is the longest standing in the Cabinet and has withstood numerous reshuffles since 2006. This long-term continuity has fostered a cohesive partnership between donors and the MOE to implement key strategies, reforms, and sector plans. In addition, the government of the DRC (GDRC) has increased its financial commitment to education from 7.9 percent of its budget in 2012 to 14.7 percent in 2015. Within this context, USAID/DRC has provided assistance to all levels of the education system and, in FY 2015, achieved impressive accomplishments in line with both goals 1 (improved reading skills) and 3 (access to education in crisis environments) of USAID’s Education Strategy as well as the Mission’s Country Development Cooperative Strategy (CDCS).

As the leader of the donor education group, USAID provides continuous technical advice and support to the GDRC in its implementation of a three-year, $100 million grant from the Global Partnership for Education to support the MOE’s strategy. As this project ends in August 2016, USAID has endorsed the GDRC’s follow-on funding request for a new $100 million grant with a requirement for the GDRC to effectively implement its free access to primary education initiated in 2010.


In line with USAID’s objectives under its 2015-2019 CDCS, USAID’s education activities support the MOE to increase access, equity, and retention, as well as improve the quality and relevance of education for Congolese youth.

USAID and the United Kingdom Department for International Development (DfID) have jointly funded a groundbreaking, five-year $180 million education program focused on reading outcomes to support the GDRC’s 2016 – 2025 education and training strategy. This is the largest single education intervention in the DRC and will improve the reading outcomes of 1.5 million grade 1-4 students in French and their local language. It will employ professional development approaches for teachers that use local languages

to help young children learn to read, consistent with the new curriculum. The program will also reach 450,000 out-of-school children to improve retention in primary grades by 30 percent in target schools, and work at the provincial level to improve education governance and accountability. Not only does this program contribute significantly to the GDRC Mission objectives, it also contributes to two important initiatives -- “Room to Learn” and “Let Girls Learn” – that increase equitable access to education in crisis and conflict environments.

In eastern DRC, USAID’s Accelerated Learning Programs (ALPs) are extremely effective in providing education opportunities to out-of-school youth. ALPs compress the equivalent of the six-year primary program into three years, allowing students to re-enter the formal education system at the secondary level or qualify for vocational training.

As violence at and around schools is a known barrier to access. USAID has created school environments that are safe and conducive to learning for children, particularly girls, by training teachers, administrators, mentors, and parent-teacher associations on gender sensitive pedagogy, children’s socio-emotional well-being, and on how to assess safety and security at the school.  School by-laws and a code of conduct were developed and adopted by all of the targeted schools in peri-urban areas.

SELECT FY 2015 Accomplishments

  • USAID assistance helped more than 200,000 primary school students to read better. USAID reached 2,500 teachers and master trainers, and 873 inspectors through the use of 10 USAID-funded Teacher Resource Centers and 60 Teacher Learning Circles (TLCs).
  • In peri-urban schools in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi that are paying special attention to access for girls, fifth and sixth-grade teachers from 36 schools have been trained in teaching reading which was designed to improve the reading skills of nearly 6,000 primary school students. In those schools, 1,017 disadvantaged fifth grade students (90 percent female) were awarded scholarships.
  • USAID’s Alternative Learning Programs enrolled 11,855 youth (56 percent female) in FY 2015. Of the students enrolled, 2,150 students took the primary school terminal exam. The pass rate in partner ALPs was 96.3 percent for girls and 88.7 percent for boys, both well above the national average pass rate of 75 percent.
  • In FY 2015, USAID leveraged the learning from the prior five years of education programming to create the first National In-Service Teacher Training Policy in the DRC, training more than 30,000 teachers and reaching 1.2 million children with reading interventions. 
  • In addition, USAID— alongside the MOE’s Curriculum and Materials Development Directorate and the Teacher Training Directorate—developed and tested a new reading curriculum, one that incorporates instruction in one of the four national languages. This approach was piloted in Lingala in 16 schools in the Equateur Province. Preliminary results show that after one year of the Lingala program, grade 1 students made significant gains in letter naming, high frequency word reading, text reading and answering comprehension questions compared to the baseline and their control counterparts.


Opportunities for Equitable Access to Quality Basic Education (OPEQ)

International Rescue Committee (IRC)

Empowering Adolescent Girls to Lead through Education (EAGLE)

FHI 360

Evaluation of Education Services (EdData II)

Research Triangle Institute (RTI)

Improving Reading, Equity, and Accountability in DRC (IREAD); also known as ACCELERE! program Chemonics.