Instability, poverty and natural disasters in DR Congo have undermined efforts to deliver basic services such as education, resulting in the deterioration of many schools across the country. Millions of children, girls in particular, have very limited or no access to education.
The Government of the Democratic Republic of the Congo is working to improve the quality of education and enrollment of all children in the country, especially girls. As part of these efforts, 58 primary schools are being fully renovated throughout the country, to benefit about 30,000 students.
The Congolese Ministry of Primary, Secondary and Vocational Education launched the first phase of the school renovation project in 2009, with over $14 million in funding from the World Bank.
In addition to rehabilitating primary schools throughout DR Congo, the project is also renovating and equipping a teacher training institute, the National Pedagogical University.
UNOPS is implementing the civil engineering and procurement aspects of the project on behalf of the Congolese government.
UNOPS services include:
verifying and validating technical and financial studies, tender documents and progress reports
administrative and financial management
coordinating and supervising project activities
Improving learning conditions
In total, UNOPS is rehabilitating 625 classrooms, 58 toilet blocks and 58 school administrators' offices, and has procured more than 8,000 pieces of school furniture. Students are now benefiting from better constructed, brighter, well-ventilated classrooms, with enough space to fit all students on the school benches.
UNOPS incorporated gender sensitive elements into the project by designing and constructing separate sanitary facilities for girls and boys. These were constructed with sustainable waste management systems which reduce environmental and health risks.
Ngangu 3 primary school in Kikwit, Bandundu province was first built in 1955. After its recent repair the school's director, Mukwa Mayaya said: "We will redouble our efforts to maintain this jewel as it is now."
The project has also improved conditions for trainee teachers by rehabilitating the university auditoriums, science and language laboratories, 'practice classrooms' and administrative buildings. It is also providing cutting edge audiovisual and multimedia tools for the language laboratory, radio and television equipment for the communication department, and research equipment for the biology, chemistry and physics laboratories.
Patience Ngelinkoto, from the university's chemistry department said that the number of students choosing to major in chemistry had increased significantly since it was announced that new materials would be provided.
Mrs. Ngelinkoto said: "The new equipment is a significant step forward. Before we could only give lectures, but for over one month now students have been able to link theory with hands-on practice. Working with the materials that they learned about in theory has created increased interest and enthusiasm.
"We have also received visits from secondary school students who responded with similar enthusiasm. Many of them told us they want to study chemistry after graduating high school."
In two rehabilitated schools in Kinshasa, the number of registered primary school students increased by 84 percent to 1,539, which includes 742 girls. The new classrooms, sanitary facilities, office furniture and school benches are also benefiting secondary school students, who use the facilities in the afternoons. The rehabilitation of the two schools created 1,500 days of temporary work for the local community.
UNOPS successfully involved local communities in the project by contracting Congolese companies to provide the works and furniture. In total, the project generated 56,700 days of paid work.
The project also helped build national capacity in procurement by involving officials from the Ministry of Education's school infrastructure directorate as observers during the process.
UNOPS in focus