On Tuesday June 16, the World Bank approved $1 billion for the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) educational and health sectors which have been conflicted by years of limited funding, wars and mismanagement.
The funding includes $800 million to support free primary school education and $200 million will be used to improve maternal and child health. $435 million will be in grants while $565 million in credit.
Due to the surge in cases of coronavirus, Congo’s fragile health care system has been under strain to meet up with the growing numbers. So far, Congo has recorded 4,974 confirmed cases of the virus and 112 deaths.
“This funding is all the more important because it will help alleviate the economic and social consequences of the coronavirus affecting the poorest,” World Bank country director Jean-Christophe Carret, said
The DRC education system is plagued by constant violence, gender inequality and poor infrastructure. Over 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.
The United Nations report shows that in the past eight months in DRC, about 1,300 civilians have been killed in separate conflicts involving armed groups and government forces with the violence forcing more than half a million people from their homes. This includes children who have had to drop out of school due to the recurring violence.
More so, DRC’s educational system is faced with uneven distribution of school infrastructure, socio-cultural barriers and other vulnerabilities such as child labor and marriage, early pregnancy and disability.
The male gender is given more opportunities both in the educational system and employment market. Sadly, 52.7 percent of girls aged 5 to 17 do not attend school.
After taking office in January 2019, President Felix Tshisekedi had vowed to make universal free education one of his priorities, but development agencies say there has been little sign of progress.
Nevertheless, there’s a renewed hope that these funds will help restructure the educational system and provide basic education for both the male and female gender.