DR CONGO: Minister's plans to improve higher education

The Democratic Republic of Congo's Minister for Higher Education, Léonard Mashako Mamba, is introducing legislation with the aim of boosting the country's higher education system and enabling universities to meet the challenges of globalisation, reported Le Potentiel of Kinshasa.

A bill approved by the government and currently before parliament will introduce the Bologna structure of three, five and eight years' higher education. Transversal studies across the curriculum will cover issues such as Aids, women's technical education, health, the environment and ethics, said the paper.

In addition to the legislation, Mamba is also planning to strengthen engineering courses to contribute to the country's development, and to improve English and computer studies to help meet the challenges of globalisation.

Le Potentiel said that digitisation would be introduced throughout the nation's universities with the Universitic programme being established 'soon' in collaboration with Belgian partners in seven Congolese institutions, including Unikin, as Kinshasa University is known, and the Université Pédagogique Nationale, or UPN.

With support from France, a second programme, Sesam, to promote the use of French in higher education throughout the country, would start with the selection of 30 pilot institutions to improve teaching methods.

Mamba also stressed the need for quality assurance in higher education to meet international standards, reported Le Potentiel. It said the minister had attended a conference on the subject in Bujumbura, Burundi, in January.

Within the next few weeks, a meeting in Kinshasa would bring together all the higher education institutions of the Democratic Republic of Congo for discussions on quality assurance, as well as other topics including mobility of lecturers and problems in paying them, student mobility and teaching assessment.

The paper reported the government had already released US$2 million and the World Bank had donated US$3 million for the renovation of UPN, which would start this month.

Last year, the Minister had set up an organisational audit into the state of the country's universities, as a result of which universities in Kinshasa not functioning properly had been penalised, said Le Potentiel. It said the audit was continuing in the provinces.