Education International
Education International

DRC: education once again suffers the consequences of political turmoil

published 22 December 2016 updated 9 January 2017

Political tensions in the Democratic Republic of Congo have resulted in school closures in the country, as teachers and parents are worried for pupils' safety.

When the new school year in September was d isrupted by political unrest in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the General Secretary of EI affiliate, the National Federation of Teachers and Social Educators of Congo (Fédération Nationale des Enseignants et Educateurs sociaux du Congo - FENECO-UNTC), Augustin Tumba Nzujia, had qualified the situation as "serious", and highlighted that the rising death toll in the country had let to the suspension of school-related activities.

Due to a renewed uptick of tensions in the country in the last few days, caused by a frail process of what should have been a transition of power to a new government, schools and markets have been closed again, Tumba Nzujia reported via telephone recently.

The government's call for business as usual and to trust law enforcement officers to maintain order largely was not followed by the population, he said. He went on to explain that there was little to no traffic in the capital of Kinshasa, where "taxis are driving around timidly and there are uniformed police and soldiers standing on every street corner". He added that tyre fires had been started in several neighbourhoods in Kinshasa and in some provinces, and that attacks by militias have been reported.

Political turmouil in the country flared up when President Kabila changed, in an apparent breach of the National Constitution, the electoral calendar and postponed the presidential elections until 2018, despite his term of office having ended on 19 December. Twenty-nine people were killed in the resulting violent protests, according to Human Rights Watch.