The education system in the Democratic Republic of Congo is generally poor and underdeveloped. Expats are not likely to enrol their children in the local schooling system and rather tend to look for international schools.
The number of international schools in the DRC is limited, and most are concentrated in the country’s capital, Kinshasa, and the second-largest city, Lubumbashi. Homeschooling presents as an additional option for expat families.
Public schools in the DRC
Unfortunately, local public schools are usually extremely under-resourced and lack adequate teaching staff and equipment.
The local curriculum is based on the Belgian education system, with six years of primary and six years of high school. The language of instruction is French.
Due to the poor quality of the public schooling system, expats are highly unlikely to enrol their children in a local school. Rather, parents choose to send their children to an international school or to boarding school back home or abroad.
Private and international schools in the DRC
There are a few private schools in the DRC, as well as international schools. Most of these are found in Kinshasa and Lubumbashi. Some private schools offer bilingual education programmes, while others are mainly either English or French-speaking.
One of the most prominent international schools is The American School of Kinshasa, and many expats living in the capital choose to send their children there.
To add to the cost of living, fees at international schools are expensive. Expats moving to the DRC as part of a corporate relocation should ensure that their employment package can cover these costs.
Nurseries in the DRC
Parents moving to the DRC may be worried about finding the best kindergarten or preschool for their toddlers. While the options will be more limited than in other expat destinations, several international schools offer early learning programmes. These schools recognise the value of early education and guide young children in basic communication and numeracy.
Parents to young children may find they integrate better into school life than older students, particularly regarding language. English and French are the main languages of instruction, and young kids typically pick up language easier.
Homeschooling in the DRC
Given that the legal status of homeschooling in the DRC is unclear, expat parents see this as an alternative schooling option. On the one hand, public schools are generally under-funded. On the other hand, international schools can be exorbitant. Homeschooling helps expat families find a good balance.
New arrivals who want to homeschool their children are advised to do their research on various curricula. They can also contact expats living in the country through social media pages for personal guidance and advice.
Special needs education in the DRC
Access to special needs education in the DRC is unfortunately limited. We advise expats to contact and consult with private schools to find out if their level of services is suitable.
The American School of Kinshasa, for instance, typically supports students with mild to moderate learning disabilities. They advocate for inclusive education and have trained teachers and administrative staff to offer this. Students with physical handicaps can also access the school.
Tutors in the DRC
Having a tutor can help both expat children and adults integrate into their new life in the DR Congo. Expats who do not speak French may encounter some culture shock and hiring a tutor to learn the basics can be a great benefit.
Finding a local tutor is perhaps best done by networking with other residents, as well as asking at private schools. Access to the internet also allows families to find tutors from all over the world who are willing to conduct online learning sessions.