Bishops in Congo Brazzaville Decry Decline in Education Standards, Call for Reform

Members of the Episcopal Conference of Congo (CEC) with President Search Results Web results Denis Sassou Nguesso.

Catholic Bishops in the Republic of the Congo (Congo Brazzaville) have decried the decline in education standards in the Central African nation, which they say, trains “people who are not qualified,” and called on the government to invest in reforming the sector.

The concerns of the Bishops are contained in the July 26 20-page report by the leadership of the Justice and Peace Commission (JPC) of the Episcopal conference of Congo (CEC) titled, "No human capital development in the Congo without recovery of the education system."

Explaining the motivation of compiling the report, the National Coordinator of JPC in Congo Brazzaville, Fr. Félicien Mavoungou has been quoted as saying in reference to the country’s education sector, “We have been living, for some years now, a grave injustice in the Republic of Congo.”

Unlike previous years when many from different African countries flocked to the country seeking quality education, today for “many reasons,” Fr. Felicien has noted, “We train people who are not qualified or who are very poorly qualified,” a weakness “reflected in the country's political system.”

“The Church in Central Africa, and more precisely in the Republic of the Congo, has been advocating for the improvement of the living conditions of the people,” Fr. Felicien has said and added, “But how can this be done if human capital is not valued? Today, this development is done mainly through schools.”


The training offered by the country’s education system “is no longer effective,” Fr. Felicien has noted in reference to the July 26 report, and added, “There are a lot of complaints; young people who have been trained or are in training are no longer very qualified.”

The ineffectiveness of the training, the JPC Coordinator said, “can be explained by what we have in the field - the classrooms are overcrowded. Sometimes we reach 100 or 150 students per class.”

“The school map has not been updated for some time. As a result, there are people who travel thousands of kilometres to go to school. The rural communes have grown but there are not enough schools to allow children to study in good conditions,” he further said.

In the report, JPC officials have also observed a “hyper centralization of school administration” in the country.

“If a school lacks equipment in a region, it is hard to understand why the city authorities (Mayor or Prefect) cannot take the initiative to rehabilitate it; and why one has to call the Minister who is in Brazzaville 800 km away,” Fr. Felicien said in lamentation of the poor educational infrastructure.

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“The other observation is the lack of investment in the school system,” the JPC official has said and added, “International institutions such as UNESCO recommend that each country should devote 20 percent of its budget to education. In the Republic of Congo, these investments are of the order of 10 percent and are not monitored.”

To improve the country’s education quality, JPC leadership recommends to the legislators and the government to “vote a substantial budget” to support the sector, monitor and evaluate progress of education-related projects, and put up a state university in all regions to compliment the “only one” in Brazzaville.

“Education must be a priority area for every country. It is essential to give all children and young people a chance to study under good conditions,” Fr. Felicien has said and continued in reference to the youth in Congo Brazzaville, “When they are well educated, they are able to commit themselves to their country and work with pleasure.”

Even in times of crisis, the Cleric further said, “as recommended by the international pact on economic and socio-cultural law, the government must take urgent measures to protect certain sectors such as education and health, which explains our advocacy for the recovery of the education system in our country.”