23 May 2008 World ORT IC studies the reform of Congos education system World ORTs International Cooperation Department has helped pave the way for the vital reform of the education sector in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The recommendations made by three studies coordinated by World ORT IC have been accepted almost in their entirety by educators, social workers, church leaders, representatives of the Ministries of Education and Social Affairs and other interested parties at a meeting (pictured) in the capital Kinshasa. Judith Fiss, a staff member at World ORT ICs Geneva office, was in Kinshasa for the presentation of the studies findings and recommendations. The studies were presented and then participants split up into workshops to discuss aspects of each one, Ms Fiss said. The comments arising from these detailed discussions have been taken on board and some minor changes are being made to the final report. However, the overall acceptance of the studies by the DRC government is a very positive sign. Three teams of experts, all but one of whom originated from Congo, spent up to four months examining the problems of the countrys education sector and exploring practical reforms. One study focused on the reintegration of disenfranchised children, such as child soldiers, child prostitutes, disabled, orphans and homeless, into the school system. The second study looked at how best to adapt vocational training to the needs of the countrys labour market. The third team performed a feasibility study on how best to modernise the countrys secondary and tertiary education system. The studies, which were financed by the African Development Bank (AfDB) as part of its Education Sector Programme in the DRC, made dozens of recommendations ranging from the creation of adequately resourced tuition centres to help children get back into school and the reinforcement of partnerships between vocational training bodies and private businesses to the need for on-going training for teachers and the provision of satisfactory manuals for students. In addition, World ORTs work facilitated active partnerships between the Ministries of Education, Social Affairs and Labour, Ms Fiss said. And we also created a plan for training programmes to be implemented by local universities and provided input into changes in the legal framework which would optimise partnerships between the state, parents, churches, communities and private companies. The DRC is emerging from decades of post-colonial turmoil: years of harsh dictatorship have been followed in recent years by violent insurrections. However, the country despite its lack of modern infrastructure and widespread poverty has the potential for significant increases in its wealth because of its large reserves of minerals, oil and natural gas. Conducting the studies was a challenge because of the infrastructure problem it can be difficult even to reach regional centres, Ms Fiss said. But we overcame these problems and the result is a good foundation for the educational reforms that are so vital to the long term progress and prosperity of this country. Based on what weve done, the implementing agency will be quickly seeking partners to effect our recommendations.