During their joint visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) on 16 September, the Director-General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova, and United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education, Gordon Brown welcomed the commitment of the DRC at the highest level to education.
This joint visit was designed to support national mobilization for education and strengthen cooperation with the international community. The DRC Government has placed education at the heart of its fight against poverty and its national strategy for economic and social development.
Irina Bokova and Gordon Brown were received by His Excellency Joseph Kabila, President of the Republic, who expressed his personal commitment to access to quality education for all Congolese children, which he has elevated to national priority. It is in this context that the authorities have launched a programme to build 1000 schools, that are self-financed, and of which almost half have already been built.
"We must do everything to accelerate the positive momentum established by President Kabila," said Irina Bokova to the press after the meeting. "Access to quality education for all Congolese youth remains a challenge. The international community must do more to support the realization of this goal and encourage the continued efforts of national authorities," she added.
"The education of all Congolese children is imperative to eradicate poverty in the DRC, and it is the key to social and economic development. This is not a utopia, a theoretical vision, but a concrete and achievable objective if we are all mobilized," said Gordon Brown.
The interview with the President of the Republic was followed by a high-level roundtable on education in the DRC, chaired by Prime Minister Augustin Matata Ponyo, and attended by several key ministers, including those of Education, Higher Education, the Minister of Finance and Budget, as well as technical and financial partners.
"Education is the foundation for progress, and the ability to break free from ignorance, so this is for us an essential project," said Augustin Matata Ponyo. The discussion focused on priority areas to ensure equal attention to issues of access to education and quality education. Participants at the roundtable also addressed the issue of funding, including national resource mobilization – as the basis for any lasting partnership – along with the continued support of the international community in particular, the Global Partnership for Education.
"Education is not an expense but an investment for sustainable peace and development," concluded the Director-General.