Education system in the DRC, the Democratic Republic of the Congo

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, primary education can last up to six years. Secondary school can take up to six years to complete. All students need to complete a national exam at the end of secondary school.

The education system in the DRC, the Democratic Republic of the Congo

Education takes roughly 12 years In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, or DRC, DR Congo, or Congo-Kinshasa, That is from the beginning of primary school to the end of secondary education.

The school year starts in September and ends in June. Universities, begin their academic year in October and end it in July. Each course at a university lasts one academic year.

The DRC education system favors primary schools. In primary school, nonacademic courses have taken precedence over academic courses. Secondary school curricula are more academic in nature. The DRC wants to make the school curriculum more African. They want to teach more about local history and culture. And they as well to promote the study of African languages. Students are still eager to learn French and English for self-improvement. The school models of Belgium and France influence the school curriculum of the DRC.

Schools use local languages as the medium of instruction, especially in primary school. Those can be one of the four big ones: Kikongo, Lingala, Tshiluba and Swahili. But also one of the hundreds living languages in DR Congo. French is the official language of instruction, especially past primary school.

Pre-school

Kindergarten is two years in DRC. It’s for ages from 3 to 5 years old.

Primary School

In DR Congo, in primary school, the average age of entry into school is 5 and half years. There are six grades in primary education. There are two preparation classrooms, two elementary classes, and two medium classes.

Secondary school

Secondary school can take up to five or six years to complete. Secondary school can be general or technical. Five years is for technical secondary school. Six years is for general secondary school. They both split into two age levels. The lower level is two years long for pupils from 12 to 14 years old. The higher level is four years long for pupils from 14 to 17 years old or to 18 years old.

To be admitted to a university, secondary school pupils need to pass a national exam, or “diplôme d’etat”. They need to pass with a minimum score of 50 percent. Once enrolled in a university, students must pass an end-of-year examination. That is an essay on each topic taken, as well as an oral examination. If students fail, they can retake the course by sitting through it for an additional year. A college student must write and defend a thesis in order to obtain a license.

Vocational Education

Students may go from primary to vocational schools instead of secondary school. They do that because of their interests and academic performance. They can take part in up to 5-year programs in several trades and crafts. In the end, they will get a brevet credential.

What is education like in DRC?

The quality of education is mediocre. This is also because of the conditions in which these students study. But above all, this is because of the qualifications of the teachers. They are too few for the number of students. They are not well trained and they are underpaid. Many Congolese teachers have glaring shortcomings in almost all subjects.

Five in six students in primary schools cannot read a simple text in French. That gets worse in rural areas. Only one in ten boys can read in French. And only one in twelve girls can read in French.

Do girls go to school in DR Congo?

Many young girls drop out of school at the end of primary school and during the first years of the secondary cycle. Half of the girls under 19 years old quit school. That is due to early marriage and early and unwanted pregnancies,

Is school free in the DRC?

No, even if free school is a DRC government goal. The DRC is still unable to provide universal primary education. The average annual school fees per child run from $ 25 to $ 35 for primary school and from $ 30 to $ 50 for secondary school. Money is a significant barrier to acquiring an education. Parents bear a large part of a child’s educational fees.

What is the literacy rate in the Democratic Republic of Congo?

Three in four Congolese nationals aged more than 15 years years old can read and write. The literacy rate is higher for men and lower for women. Nine in ten DRC men can read and write. While only 67 percent of women, six or seven in ten women, can read and write.


Sources: Stateuniversity Democratic Congo Educational System, MeridiE education en rdc,

The cove image is somewhere in Binza, Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo. Photo by Kaysha on Unsplash