DR CONGO: Accord to boost women's higher studies

The United Nations Development Programme last month signed an agreement with Congolese universities to promote the higher education of women, as part of a wider action plan, reported Le Potentiel of Kinshasa.

The accord was signed between the UNDP and seven higher education institutions including the University of Kinshasa, Protestant University of the Congo and the National Pedagogical University.

The UNDP action plan originally introduced in the DR Congo in 2002 was structured around development of democratic governance, the fight against poverty and prevention of conflict. Two years later gender equality was made an important component of the overall programme.

The new partnership with the higher education institutions was in addition to previous gender equality support for university networks and for the [recently launched Congolese] Association of Women Professors, said the UNDP, and would help the institutions establish links with the Bologna process.

Under Bologna, universities should collaborate with companies and other employers to give students workplace experience. The Congolese Minister for Higher and University Education, Léonard Mashako Mamba, had asked the UNDP and other agencies to play a more systematic part in such cooperation, said the UNDP statement.

Under the new strategy female students from the partner institutions whose studies are relevant to UNDP themes and programmes will be admitted for two-three month training courses, reported Le Potentiel.

At the signing ceremony the minister said gender equality was one of the priorities of his ministry, and told rectors and directors of the partner institutions that postgraduate women students should be given particular priority.