DRC: Digital and the fight against corruption in schools

By Bernardin Sebahire
Researcher at ISDR/Bukavu

Transparency and accountability are among the five pillars of good governance in fragile
states like DR Congo. In the domain of education, these principles are unfortunately relegated
to the background by the leaders.
For 30 years, schools in the DRC have been operating practically thanks to the subsidy
parents through teacher support. What was designed as a palliative measure to the rescue of a
state that was first exhausted by several years of mismanagement under the dictatorship, then
of predatory warfare, stands, curiously, more and more as a system; and discontent rises on
all sides. Impoverished parents say they don’t want it anymore; disillusioned teachers or
cheated denounce her; children are crying about the violation of their right to education. For
many, it is neither more nor less than the violation of free education enshrined in the
Constitution as a sovereign and non-negotiable right.

And yet, despite these apparently unanimous opinions, the situation is far to change. The
schools continue to demand and collect the school bonus, and the parents on their side, willy-
nilly, continue to pay it. Arguments diverge: for some, it is a moral obligation for parents to
contribute to the education of their children, and for others, who sign and persist, we cannot
continue to maintain an unconstitutional arrangement by forcing the bounty.

There is even more because in addition, the children pay the construction costs, buy
mandatory uniforms with logo and school stamp, contribute to the costs computer equipment,
the payment of the school caretaker and even the costs organization of parties.
Ultimately, parents are drained by various practices and truly bled. They cry out for help and
miss no opportunity to demand that he be put an end to this system which is torturing them.
Faced with this degrading character of the premium school, are the users ready to bear the
consequences of the abolition premium? This question continues to divide one and the other.
The parents remain the first concerned, since ultimately, it is their children that it is, even if
through a social contract, they share the responsibility with the rulers. It is still necessary that
this social contract really exists and that the parties are aware of this. How many parents are
ready today to keep their children at home at the start of the school year if the State is unable
to support the running of schools?
Free education, a reading by Tony Mwaba, Congolese Minister of primary, secondary and
technical education

In 2019, when the President of the Republic decided to gradually return to the square one,
starting with free primary education, we observed some resistance, not because the
effectiveness of the free is impossible, but the resistances are due to the greed of what are
accustomed to handling money in classrooms, instead of handling books and textbooks.
Headteachers, school promoters as well as all the other traders are invited to the area of
education and turned it into a big public market to trade on the backs of students and make
money, instead of educating students. This situation has affected the quality of education.

Democratization of school
Meanwhile, education has been democratized over the past five years in the DRC and in most
cities across the country. In July 2022, the research center on Anti-Corruption (CERC),
launched the campaign on the danger of corruption in school environments. This center
provides each trained student with a smartphone having “Educhshek” app to report useful
information about acts of corruption in his school. Facing corruption and bad governance
reported in the education sector, students resolved to act in for the accountability and quality
of education. Students have followed training on building community integrity. These latter
are also equipped on digital innovations through the mobile application “Educhshek”. Now
students are able to monitor the educational services available to them. provision as well as
the quality of the infrastructures that house the schools. Thus, the students manage to write
reports, denounce and take stock of the situation of the corruption and anti-values ​​in schools
and in the community.

According to Toyi Mirefu, a consultant at the Anti-Corruption Research Center, between
2019 and 2020, the CERC project, established integrity clubs in schools. In Uvira, in the
province of South Kivu, students denounced the collection of fees illegal in schools. The
ongoing digital application has enabled decision-makers make important decisions to
improve hygienic conditions in 90 schools in the territory of Uvira.