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Democratic Congo

Secondary Education


There were two types of colonial secondary schools prior to 1960 in the DRC. Lower level secondary schools offered three- and four-year vocational education courses. A second type of secondary school offered six year vocational programs, as well as academic courses. Most programs ended in terminal diplomas, while a few were stepping-stones into universities and institutions of higher education. Type one secondary schools included ecoles de monitrices for women exclusively; ecoles de moniteurs were for students who wanted to train to become teachers; ecoles d'assistants agricoles prepared agricultural extension officers; ecoles d'assistant medical trained male nurses; ecoles moyennes taught clerical workers; and ecoles professionnelles taught a variety of industrial and commercial trades to students.

The second or more advanced type of secondary schools, which offered six-year programs could be divided into two three-year programs each. One set of courses was general education or academic classes. Schools offering these programs were known as colleges. They usually were Catholic schools. Other schools offered both the academic programs in the initial programs and vocational classes in the advanced programs. The vocations included administration and business, veterinary science and farming, surveying, and teaching. After the DRC won its independence, the first type of secondary school was either upgraded to a type two school or eliminated. The system after independence offered a two year cycle d'orientation (CO) taken by all secondary school students. The CO offered intensive classes in mathematics, French, and the hard sciences. Successful students could advance to a short cycle offering two-year and three-year technical diploma programs or to long cycle, which took four years to complete and were more challenging. Short cycle students took classes in domestic sciences (usually recommended for females), textile production, auto mechanics, electrical work, woodwork, or construction. Long cycle students studied either the humanities or humanites scientifques, including mathematics, physics, chemistry or biology, and humanties litteraires, which taught Latin, Greek, and African literature. Teacher training was also available under humanities pedagogiques or humanities techniques for students wanting to study agricultural sciences, electrical engineering, commerce, construction, chemistry, or mechanics. All secondary school students received moral education warning them of the evils of idolatry and traditional religion, which missionaries considered devil worship, and teaching them the virtue of marrying only one wife at a time in a country where polygamy was accepted practice and most men had a dusiem bureau or second wife. Most students also took mathematics, science, physical education, geography, history, sociology, and English classes before graduating.

Before 1981, all students sat the CO exam. Those passing this hurdle entered the advanced secondary schools. Such students earned a brevet du cycle d'orientation. When short cycle programs were finished, students were awarded a brevet d'aptitudes professionelles. Those finishing long cycle programs earned the diplome d'humanities. The Ministry of Education oversaw examinations leading to the diploma d'humanites and guaranteed the quality of training represented by this diploma. The Ministry of Education also administered the examen d'etat. Scoring in the upper 50 percent on this examination granted students entrance into universities. Scores below 50 percent meant that students were awarded certificates indicating that they completed secondary school, most of these students immediately went to work.

Expatriate teachers were common in secondary schools. As more DRC citizens earned degrees, expatriate teacher numbers tend to decline. Throughout the 1960s over 65 percent of qualified secondary teachers with university degrees were expatriates. An estimated 74 percent of unqualified teachers who just had secondary school diplomas were from the DRC. Throughout the 1960s, because of the very limited enrollment of Africans and few opportunities for self-advancement, the pupil to teacher ratio was 4:1. This rose dramatically as Africans gained vastly expanded opportunities to enroll in secondary schools. Vocational courses were reduced following independence in part due to a change in educational phi losophy from vocational toward more academic training, and in part because it became increasing difficult to get qualified teachers to offer such courses inside of the DRC under deteriorating social and economic conditions.


Additional topics

Education Encyclopedia - StateUniversity.comGlobal Education ReferenceDemocratic Congo - History Background, Constitutional Legal Foundations, Educational System—overview, Preprimary Primary Education, Secondary Education