UK boosts girls’ access to education in the Democratic Republic of Congo
- New UK programme to increase girls’ access to education in Kasai, one of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s (DRC) most deprived provinces.
- Following launch of UK’s new Women and Girls Strategy to tackle increasing threats to gender equality, support will reach 60,000 children in the region, 60% of whom will be girls.
- The Accès et Égalité pour l’Éducation des Filles (AXE-Filles) Programme will improve access to and the quality of education, tackling barriers to girls continuing in school, such as sexual and gender-based violence.
The Minister for Development and Africa, Andrew Mitchell has today (Sunday 19 March) launched a new programme to support 60,000 children, mainly girls, to access education in the Kasai province in the DRC.
Kasai is one of the most deprived regions in the DRC, where both attendance in school and literacy rates for children are low.
Up to £28 million of UK funding will go to the new programme, Accès et Égalité pour l’Éducation des Filles (AXE-Filles), to improve school facilities and provide a better quality of learning for Congolese children, including marginalised girls.
This builds on previous UK education programmes which have helped approximately four million children access schooling across the DRC, and have supported the Congolese government’s efforts to roll out free education and improve quality.
The UK is committed to tackling gender inequality around the world and helping girls get a quality education, a priority reaffirmed by Foreign Secretary James Cleverly in Sierra Leone last week where he launched the UK’s new global Women and Girls Strategy. The strategy puts a continued focus on educating girls, empowering women and girls, championing their health and rights and ending gender-based violence – the challenges the UK believes are most acute.
AXE-Filles will work with schools, provincial government, and communities to provide education on sexual health and reproductive rights, tackle sexual and gender-based violence at school, and provide scholarships to help girls attend and remain in secondary school.
The Minister for Development and Africa, The Rt Hon Andrew Mitchell MP said:
The launch of our new education programme is vital for ensuring that Congolese children who need it the most get the access to education they deserve. By transforming the way they learn, we can boost the quality of teaching, improve school attendance and outcomes, and empower girls.
We work closely with DRC on common challenges, including the fight against climate change. From strengthening democratic processes, to UK-supported hospitals saving lives in North Kivu, we are collaborating to improve the lives of Congolese people, supporting sustainable development, empowering women and girls and working towards regional peace.
During his three-day visit to the country, Minister Mitchell will also discuss steps towards ending the violence in the east of the country.
In Kinshasa, he will meet President Felix Tshisekedi and Foreign Minister Christophe Lutundula to discuss the ongoing work to strengthen the UK-DRC partnership.
Alongside development and humanitarian support, the UK is also keen to work with DRC to improve the business environment and help deliver economic prosperity. The UK has invited the DRC to the UK-African Investment Summit, to be held in London in April 2024, aiming to grow two-way trade and investment.
He will also visit North Kivu to listen to a range of voices on finding a peaceful solution to the violence in the east of the country, and see first-hand how UK humanitarian support is saving lives and reducing suffering of the most vulnerable who have been displaced by ongoing conflict.
Notes to editors:
The new programme (to be implemented by Save the Children) builds on lessons from a 1.5-year pilot (implemented by UNICEF), which improved teaching and learning for 24,000 children, and enabled 2000 out-of-school children (72% girls) to re-enter school.
Kasai is one of the poorest provinces. It has the lowest school attendance in the country (57%). In Kinshasa, the average lower secondary attendance rate is 56%, however in Kasai, overall attendance is 14% on average, with 26% of boys attending lower secondary school, compared to 3% of girls.
Bilateral UK aid to the Democratic Republic of Congo will total up to £42.8 million for this financial year.