Democratic Republic of the Congo first country in Africa to produce its progress report on SDG4 and CESA

Democratic Republic of the Congo is the first country in Africa to publish a report which monitors progress towards both Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG4), part of the 2030 Agenda for Education and the Continental Education Strategy for Africa (CESA), which falls under Africa’s Agenda 2063. UNESCO’s Capacity Development for Education (CapED) Programme led the piloting of this report, which was officially validated on 9, November in Kinshasa during a meeting jointly organized by DRC’s Ministry of EPST and UNESCO.

The report documents DRC’s national efforts to achieve the two agendas, which are broadly in line with each other, since they were both launched and pronounces the first lessons learnt and recommendations for the period 2020-2030. The report also identifies gaps, revealing where efforts need to be made in order to attain both agendas on time and produce a quality education and training system in line with international standards.

The publication is a big step for DRC’s education sector and will facilitate national discourse on accountability towards improving the quality of the country’s education sector, in the context of the adoption of universal free education. In addition, as the report is the first of its kind in Africa, it will serve as an example for other African countries who are would like to to start producing their own national monitoring reports.

“DRC has taken on the challenge of implementing these Agendas by aligning its sectoral strategy for education and training (SSEF 2016-2025) with SDG4 and CESA. We have committed to regularly report on progress and results achieved through consistent evaluations. This is the subject of this report which contains many elements that could help us better orient our interventions and those of our partners.” Said the minister of primary, secondary and technical education (EPST), during the report’s validation meeting.

The report points to encouraging achievements so far in DRC in terms of the integration of SDG4 and CESA targets both in the country’s legal and planning frameworks. For instance, with support from CapED, the Government aligned its sectorial strategy for education to SDG4 targets. However, while reforms have been successfully implemented the impact of them has to date been fairly slim.

As well as matching the indicators of both the SDG4 and CESA as part of the reports’ development process, experts analyzed the national and sectoral statistical system and discovered that it is not able to capture all the data needed to fully monitor SDG4 and CESA progress, leading to ineffective monitoring and evaluation. There is, therefore, an urgent need to implement the National Strategy for the Development of Education Statistics (NSDES), which was developed with CapED support and validated in 2019.

Another challenge the report exposes is that while funding to DRC’s education sector has been on the increase, it is still very low in comparison to what the country needs in order to meet the SDG4 and CESA targets. Furthermore, external financial support, which could supplement the national budget, is on the decline. The future financing of the education sector is therefore uncertain in the medium term and the COVID-19 pandemic may present additional challenges, with the World Bank forecasting that education spending will stagnate in most countries and fall in some. A possible solution to this funding gap, identified in the report and validated by the Government, is the use of ‘innovative financing’, namely, non-traditional mechanisms to raise additional funds through projects such as micro-contributions, taxes, public-private partnerships and market-based financial transactions.

Finally, the report recommends that ownership, especially from national and provincial political authorities should be fostered and that legal provisions that tackle barriers to women and girls’ education – such as early marriage and domestic violence – need to be implemented. In addition, it recommends that the country focuses on implementing reforms that have a large impact on the entire education sector before concentrating on policies with smaller more specific scopes.

The event brought together education stakeholders, civil society organizations, financial and technical partners, as well as ministers of EPST, higher and university education, and social affairs, which reinforces the inclusive and participative approach to developing the report.

Now that this report has been successfully published, DRC now has a clearer picture of their progress so far, as well as concrete evidence-based recommendations and will be able to build on the existing momentum and continue its efforts towards achieving the SDG4 and CESA targets more effectively.