Language and Education in DRC

hsmr at hsmr at
Tue Nov 2 11:34:51 UTC 2004

Hi David,

You make it appear, as if every mother's child wants to become 
educated. Certainly you have a very good opinion of formal education, 
but one that I am not always able to share. Still some formal education 
is likely better than none.

1) May I assume that formal education is compulsory in DR Congo? If so, 
from what age to what age?

2) What are the special features of DR Congo's public education system 
that give it such a good reputation?

For example, the educational system of Singapore has a very good 
reputation in the Far East, but upon close examination the educational 
statistics show a very strong complementary private sector. This 
suggests a public system that works well for a carefully screened 
minority who find their way to the top and spread Singapore's 
educational reputation abroad, but perhaps a  much less satisfactory 
system of education for those who do not make it to more advanced 

3) I asked this question of Aurolyn about Bolivia, but she failed to 
reply.  Is French the language of instruction in DR Congo's public 
universities? If so, does this not place enormous pressure on Congolese 
children to excel in French while in grade school. What happens to 
their French after they have graduated from school?

4) How would you compare the private schools run by the church with 
those run by the government? Where does one obtain a better education, 
or does it depend on the school and individual student performance. In 
short, not everyone, who has the money, wants to attend a private 

5) I am not sure what you mean by K8. How many grades are there in the 
public school system, and how are they designated?

6) Might one generalize and state that there are three general language 
patterns for whicht the national (NLx) and local (LL) languages are  
often one and the same?

a) A local language (LL), a national language (NLx), and KL-Creole 
(KLC) [secondary-level education and below] -- Probably the vast 
majority of DR-Congolese
b) A local language (LL), a national language (NLx) and French (F) 
[tertiary education] -- A sophisticated and wealthy minority from 
different localities that stands aloof from the rest of Congolese 
c)  A local language (LL), a national language (LLx), KL-Creole (KLC), 
and French (F) [secondary or tertiary level] -- A a large minority of 
Congolese who enjoy either a secondary or tertiary level of education, 
are widely distributed throughout society, and can sometimes wield 
substantial power and influence both as individuals and as a group.

What adjustments would you make to the above structural generalization?


p.s. If you have not read the article entitled "New perpsective for a 
new adminsitration" I revised it this morning so that it would read 
better. Sometimes I cannot write in any language, no matter how hard I 

On 1 Nov 2004, at 07:37, David Balosa wrote:

> Dear Hamo:
> The Lingala that Mobutu introduced to the DR Congolese was the 
> standard Lingala which originated from his ethnic background the 
> Bangala. Then that Lingala was modified by "La Kinoiserie" pride of 
> belonging to Kinshasa social group and its philosophy ( urban prestige 
> as an important motivating factor for learning Lingala Creole). And 
> promoted by its lyrics, entertainers, sport' s superstars, and so 
> forth.
> 1. Kinshasa is one of the biggest cities in the world. To found out 
> what % of all DRC live in Kinshasa you better read the UN's world 
> repot on that. Remember that DR Congo is the 10th largest country of 
> the world (D.C. Health and Company(1987, p.28)).
>  2. The DR Congolese believe that achievement is associated with 
> education. 95% of DR congolese receives formal education and 100% 
> would like to receive formal education if given opportunity.
> 3. Yes, there is. DR Congo public educational system is one of the 
> most respected educational system in Africa and Europe. Too many DR 
> Congolese scholars in Global educational arena.
> 4. Yes, they are. They are publicly educated. Since most of them can't 
> effort private education. The best public educational system is under 
> catholic schools' administration.
> 5. The textbooks are in French ( for college and high school). In 
> Kinshasa, textbooks are in Lingala and French up to K8, the same apply 
> to each province(region) - textbooks are in the national language and 
> French (Lingala and French,  Tshiluba and French, Kikongo and French, 
> Kingwana/Swahili and French). Kinshasa Lingala Creole as a lingua 
> franca is dominant in the streets of most of the DR Congolese main 
> cities, such as Kisangani, Lubumbashi, Goma, Kikwit and so forth. The 
> DR Congolese language ecology has a huge impact in the national 
> educational policy. Young DR Congolese performance is affected by the 
> language ecology situation of the country since the education at the 
> higher level is in the language that is not their every day means of 
> communication or the language in which they don't rationalize. There 
> is the challenge for the DR Congo and the African Union's language and 
> education policy. Should Lingala become the language of medium of 
> education side by side with French, thus the country adopting a 
> bilingual educational policy like in Canada? Then we will have the USA 
> of Africa in terms of socioeconomic development of that part of the 
> world.
> Indeed! the Kinois,  "la kinoiserie" and its KL-Creole is the almighty 
> feature of urban identity/prestige among the DR Congolese at home  and 
> abroad. What is interesting in the kinois is that they (kinois) think 
> that no matter from which main city of the country a DR Congolese is 
> from or has been educated, if he/she doesn't speak the KL-Creole thus 
> he/she is a "mbokatier" in Kinshasa Lingala Creole , which is said 
> "mowuta" in Standard Lingala,  "villageois/e" in French, which means 
> "country man/woman" or "villager" in English.
> There lies an other big challenge for the DR. Congolese language 
> policy makers: Should they develop textbooks in KL-Creole and French 
> or in Standard Lingala and French.
> Finally, KL-Creole as a special lingua franca like any other special 
> lingua franca has both national ( in a highly multilingual country) 
> and international ( DR. Congo, Congo- Brazzaville, RC. Africa, 
> Northern Angola, ...) identity feature. 
> David Balosa
> LaSalle University
> Philadelphia, USA
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