back to school energetically

In the DRC, this Monday, October 12, is the day set for the school year 2020-2021. It’s back in school amid controversy. Teachers say the problems are still too many for it to be possible to return to school. In addition, the synergy between teachers’ associations has decided to postpone the return to school until 26 October. What the ministry authorities deny. Overview of conflict points.

with our correspondents in Kinshasa, Kamanda Wa Kamanda and in Lubumbashi, Denise Mahého and our special correspondent, Sonia Rolley

In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the start of the school year – scheduled for October 3 and postponed – is marked by several controversies.

One of them concerns the so-called “new devices”. For years, thousands of teachers worked in public schools without even being registered by the state, let alone being paid. To hope for access to World Bank funding of around $ 200 million by the end of the year, the government must start paying them: 58,000 teachers should therefore receive a salary by the end of October for the first time.

A revision of real and fake teachers

But for the Union of Teachers in the Congo and for the National Union of Catholic Teachers, this is far from good news. Both believe that there are on this list of fake teachers. The two unions also had met the head of state in August last year to condemn him and thought they had obtained his consent to participate in a new audit. But since then nothing has been done.

Back to school in the DRC: listen to the explanations of Cécile Tshiyombo from the teachers’ association SYECO at the microphone of Sonia Rolley

Cécile Tshiyombo is the Secretary-General of Syeco (Syndicate of Teachers in the Congo). “Why do they not want us to carry out a check in accordance with the principles we had agreed with the head of state?” Asks Cecile Tshiyombo, who condemns “imaginative recruitments” and “wasted money”.

Teachers’ dissatisfaction with salaries as well

In Lubumbashi, some unions say they are ready to strike if the Congolese state does not respond to their demands. Sabine Katele has been a teacher for ten years. This Sunday night she was ready to find her way back to school and has already filled out her class diary for Monday. “We have received the teaching documents (which) we need at the beginning of the school year. The rest of it is in the other camp ”.

The other camp is the Congolese state, which she says has not kept its promises. “There are non-mechanized teachers who are still waiting for their salaries. Promises are being made that they may be paid soon, we do not know when. For the others, we were paid with the first level, but we are waiting for the other levels. ”

In Lubumbashi, teachers return to class dissatisfied with their pay: report by Denise Mahého

With the first level paid, a salary increase of $ 120 over the last school year, teachers have hoped to see their living conditions improve. But this is really not the case given the depreciation of the Congolese franc. “In the beginning, when we received the first level, each teacher could receive between 220 and 230 dollars. But today it is no longer $ 230, but almost $ 175 or half. “But on Monday morning, Sabine will still go to her school in Katuba municipality without knowing if there will be. an effective resumption of classes.

The problems associated with salaries and free education issued by the head of state are still pending, according to Jean-Bosco Phuna of the Union of Catholic Teachers. According to him, the conditions for resumption of classes before the date of October 26 are not met.

The dictation of Catholic schools

And then there is also this decision of the Archbishop of Kinshasa, which excludes all teachers who do not belong to this religion from Catholic schools. For Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo “it is to preserve the values ​​and image of Catholic schools where catechesis is on the agenda”. Faced with this decision, Asadho and the civic movement Countdown speak of a violation of the Constitution: according to these associations, the DRC is a secular state, the Catholic Church has no right to impose its religion on a teacher.

For the leaders of the Congo Teachers’ Union, it is inhumane to lose your job because of a problem of religious affiliation. And the Deputy Minister of Primary, Secondary and Technical Education decides: it is the Treasury that takes care of all the teachers, which suggests that the Catholic Church does not have to make this type of demand.