DR CONGO: Higher education and employers sign accord

The government in the Democratic Republic of Congo has brokered a partnership agreement between higher education and employer organisations, in a bid to strengthen cooperation and improve articulation between university outputs and the country's skills needs.

The accord signing, attended by high-profile business and university representatives in the presence of Higher Education Minister Professor Léonard Mashako Mamba and Prime Minister Adolphe Muzito, took place on 23 December 2010.

The prime minister voiced government's support for "reinforcing the training of managers corresponding to the demands of enterprises and the country".

He said: "The government approves the obligations of the accord and promise its support to the partnership to do good for Congolese students".

"There is no development without human resources of quality," said the higher education minister.

The President of the Congolese Enterprises Federation, Albert Yuma, was happy with the signing: "It's the first accord for providing the best adaptation of scientific theory to practice, and therefore for jobs".

In a speech on the situation of higher education in April 2010, Mamba argued that universities failed to train according to the needs of enterprises. "There isn't a partnership between the university and the professional world...

"Society and the world of labour, beneficiaries of the products of the university, accuse the sector of producing - in an almost mechanical way - degrees and graduates, without taking into account the profile required, because the university works in isolation."

On that occasion the higher education minister promised to remedy the situation.

According to the latest development, the ministry must create a National Consultative Council to focus on training and employment.

The key stakeholders - higher education and employers - will be required to collaborate on training programmes and improving quality and practice, with employers making training opportunities available for students and in turn being eligible to access finance for training purposes.