Statistically, education would appear to be one of the
healthiest institutions in contemporary Zaire. Though
numbers vary among sources, the overall growth trend has
unmistakable. The number of illiterates over fifteen years
both absolute and as a percentage of population, has
decrease, from 68.7 percent in 1962 to 38.8 percent in
1992 the rate of illiteracy was estimated at just 28
percent for males over age fifteen and 39 percent for
Numbers of schools, teachers, and pupils have grown (see
Appendix). According to UN estimates, however, enrollment
(the percentage of the school-age population enrolled in
remain relatively low--79 percent for primary school in
percent for males and 67 percent for females), up from 70
in 1965; and 23 percent for secondary school (16 percent
females). Moreover, only 56 percent of primary school-aged
reach the fourth grade.
In higher education, the nation boasts three
network of teacher training, technical, and agricultural
institutes; and several university-affiliated research
this in a country that began its independent existence in
a total of thirty Congolese university graduates among its
population of more than 16 million.
Quantitative growth, unfortunately, has served to mask
pervasive and accelerating decline in quality at all
causes of this decline may be found in shifting and
state policies, in church-state conflicts, in problems
schools, and in the economic impoverishment suffered by
as a whole.
Despite the deficiencies of the education system, most
share a faith in the value of education and a belief that
children might have, through schooling, a better future.
has been cited as one of the major factors behind the
disinclination to political activism in the face of a
continuing decline in living standards. Some analysts,
have noted a progressive narrowing of access to the
system. For example, Schatzberg has argued that the
openness of the system to all children is a myth. Access
education has increasingly been denied to those who are
not part of
the state bureaucracy and its class.
Data as of December 1993