In the 1950s and up to the country’s independence in the 1960s, Congo had one of Africa’s best primary school education through the mission schools. Since then, education has gradually deteriorated in terms of content and organization. The primary school is compulsory and free. It starts at age six and is 6 years old. Secondary school is also 6 years old, but not compulsory. It is divided into two cycles: a 2-year preparatory course, then a 4-year theoretical or vocational education. Up to the middle of the 1990s, the number of primary school pupils was estimated to be about 60% of the total school-age population, but by the turn of the century this figure had dropped to about 1/3. Now, up to 75% of children are estimated to receive some form of education.
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There are four national universities in the country, two of which are in Kinshasa. Some of the higher education is also provided by some fifty colleges, most of which are private.
Reading and writing skills among the adult population (over 15 years) were estimated in 2009 to be 67% (80% for men and 55% for women). In 1995, education received less than 1% of the government’s total expenditure, but during the 1990s, grants increased to about 10%.
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On May 16, 2005, Parliament met to adopt a constitution replacing the transitional laws that had otherwise been in force. There was hope that this move would pave the way for democracy, national unity and reconciliation. In a December referendum, the constitution was passed with 84.31% of the vote. This paved the way for elections in 2006. A new flag was adopted when the new constitution in February 2006 came into force.
In July 2006, the first free elections were held in 40 years. Kabila got 45% of the vote, winning in the western part of the country. Former rebel leader Jean-Pierre Bemba gained 20% and won especially in the eastern part of the country, where Swahili is the dominant language. Former Deputy Prime Minister of the First Independent Government, Antoine Gizenga achieved 13%. Since Kabila did not win a majority in the first round, one had to wait until the second round of elections in October. Bemba stated that the election had been marked by scams. Battles flared up between supporters of the two candidates, costing 20 lives. Impressed by the growing tension, 400 UN soldiers were sent to the capital to stop the violence.
In September, Antoine Gizenga signed a cooperation agreement with Kabila’s AMP. He was to support Kabila during the second round of elections for the presidential office in October. in return, Gizenga was supposed to be prime minister. The second round was won by Kabila with 58% of the vote. Bemba accepted the result and promised to take the seat as leader of the opposition.
In December, Antoine Gizenga was elected prime minister. In February 2007, he was able to present his government consisting of 59 ministers. In November, the government was transformed and reduced to 44 ministers. After 40 years of Western-backed dictatorship and civil war, it has succeeded in leading the country on a democratic trail.
Swiss President Michel Calmy-Rey declared during a visit to the Congo in July 2007 that the money Congo’s former dictator Mobuto had stored in Swiss banks would be returned to the Congolese people. Initially, this amounted to DKK 6.6 million. US $, but it is believed that Mobuto had several billion US $ in Swiss accounts.
The military conflict in Uganda spread across the Congo border in 2007-08, and in December 2008, the Uganda, Congo and the South Sudanese government launched a military offensive against the Lords Resistance Army (LRA) that ravaged the Garamba region. The LRA was made responsible for the murders of 400 villagers in the days around Christmas. In December 2009, the LRA committed new massacres in the Haut-Uele province. Acc. Human Rights Watch killed LRA soldiers 321 villagers in days 13-17 December.