Constructing schools in a recurrent armed conflict in Democratic Republic of Congo

Cyril Brandt

This report is by our fourth Tim Morris Award winner, Cyril Brandt, investigating construction of schools in conflicted affected regions in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Constructing schools in conflict-affected regions can be an important nexus between humanitarian assistance, development projects and peace-building. Nonetheless, this research implies that a range of challenges are faced by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and/or donors seeking to implement such projects.

However, there are few qualitative case studies dealing with these issues. Drawing on empirical research in two conflict-affected districts in the South-Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), this report explores the following three questions in the context under study,
1. Which types of schools have existed (in terms of construction style and quality)?
2. Which actors have invested in school constructions in recent years?
3. Which challenges have arisen in school construction?

The analysis reveals the following:
The quality of school constructions can differ greatly. During internal displacements, any kind of building is used to deliver education. Most permanent schools are built by village communities using locally available materials. Constructions by international donors and NGOs can result in nicely built schools. However, in several cases, abandoned construction sites and incomplete buildings were discovered. Although, the school communities usually try to take the necessary steps to make these unfinished facilities usable. In one district, UNICEF funded temporary emergency schools, and the national government had recently invested in a few high-quality buildings in each district. Faith-based organisations, which play an important role in educational governance in the DRC, hardly invest in school constructions in the rural areas under study.

The outcomes of such building projects can face a number of challenges. This report suggests that parents, teachers, NGOS and/or donors face a range of challenges during or after school construction. In this recurrent armed conflict, schools can be targeted repeatedly by members of militias. As a consequence, school buildings and construction sites can be damaged and abandoned.

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