Bishops in DR Congo Fault Government School Suspension, Call for "thorough verification"

The Secretary-General of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), Fr. Donatien Ntshole addressing journalists during a press conference in DRC's capital, Kinshasa on 14 April 2021. Credit: CENCO

Catholic Bishops in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) have faulted the government's decision to suspend 600 Catholic schools claiming that the learning institutions are among those operating under “fake authorization certificates.”

In their message through the Secretary General of the National Episcopal Conference of Congo (CENCO), Fr. Donatien Nshole, Catholic Bishops in DRC urge the government carry out a verification process that is thorough.

In a letter dated March 30 sent to Provincial Governors in DRC, the Secretary General of Primary, Secondary and Technical Education (EPST), Jean-Marie Mangobe Bomungo, announced the suspension of 1179 schools from the government's list of authorized institutions, a list that included 600 Catholic Schools.

The suspended institutions, the government alleges, are operating under false authorization and that the identification data of their respective staff and agents are irregular.

Addressing journalists at a press conference Wednesday, April 14, CENCO Secretary General, Fr. Nshole said, “The Catholic schools listed as operating with fake authorizations are very old schools that were created since the Second Republic or even since the colonial era.”


“They are not fictitious schools, but they function normally, being controlled by inspectors every year since their creation. They also present pupils for the end-of-course examinations,” Fr. Nshole said during the press conference in DRC’s capital, Kinshasa.

The Congolese Cleric continued, “CENCO appreciates the idea of restoring order in the education sector by putting an end to the circulation of false documents and the anarchic creation of schools and is willing to offer its expertise to this end.”

As a way forward, Fr. Nshole said, “a much more thorough verification is urgently needed, and that it will take a lot of time to establish who is responsible for these false authorizations.”

“There is also a need to regularize the schools that have fallen victim to this system and to clean up the personnel file,” Fr. Nshole added.

Pending the verification and regularization exercise, the Cleric said, “CENCO urges the competent authorities to suspend the decision to deactivate from the payroll those schools that meet the required criteria of viability in order to guarantee the right to education of the pupils and the salaries of the teachers who work there.”

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“May the light of the resurrection of Our Lord Jesus Christ enlighten us all to ensure the proper physical, intellectual and spiritual growth of our children for the glory of God,” Fr. Nshole implored.

CENCO members have been keen about DRC’s government promise to make primary education free for all Congolese school going children.

In 2019, the members of CENCO said that free access to primary education was irreversible and that relevant authorities needed to give teachers adequate remuneration to avoid the deterioration of national education.

“Free primary education must be irreversible. CENCO is ready to contribute to the search for solutions to overcome the main difficulties that could compromise the success of this policy of free education or contribute to the decline in the level of education, which is already deplorable,” Fr. Nshole was quoted as telling journalists in December 2019.

While President Felix Tshisekedi decided to apply Article 43 of the Constitution, proclaiming free primary education in DRC from 2019/2020 academic year, the implementation of the program has staggered, with teachers claiming their dues.


For nearly 30 years, it has been the duty of parents to contribute to the salaries of teachers in the DRC, a policy that made it difficult for many parents to keep their children in school.

In January, CENCO members expressed their support for and commitment to seeing the success of the free basic education in the Central African nation.

“CENCO remains committed to accompanying the process toward free basic education, which it considers irreversible,” the Catholic Bishops in DRC said in their January 13 statement.

They also called for the setting up of “consultation framework involving managers to evaluate and improve, as far as possible, decision-making in relation to free education.”

“There is only one effective solution to save free education, namely, the proper assumption of responsibility for teachers and schools by the public treasury as promised,” CENCO members said January 13.

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Jude Atemanke is a Cameroonian journalist with a passion for Catholic Church communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism and Mass Communication from the University of Buea in Cameroon. Currently, Jude serves as a journalist for ACI Africa.