Kinshasa, DRC– Today, U.S. Ambassador to the DRC Mike Hammer and Minister of Primary and Secondary Education Willy Bakonga launched an interactive radio learning series designed to keep Congolese youth learning despite school closures. The lessons, made for first- and second-grade students, are part of the USAID- and UKAID-funded ACCELERE! education program. The radio lessons will reach an estimated 110,000 students from more than 1,000 schools between June and August. The United States has committed $29 million in assistance to the DRC to support efforts to fight the effects of COVID19.
“There is nothing more enjoyable or inspiring to me than meeting bright and promising young Congolese, and I am heartbroken that the realities of COVID-19 forced the difficult decision of closing schools to save lives,” said Ambassador Hammer. “The ACCELERE! radio education program will keep students engaged and their dreams alive and provide a measure of relief to parents and teachers.”
“The goal of USAID’s support for education in the DRC is to provide children with the essential skills needed for them to realize their potential.” said USAID Mission Director Paul Sabatine. “Radios are powerful tools for teaching and learning. It brings lessons directly into homes, allowing parents to be part of their children’s education. USAID is committed to keeping students learning during this time and helping Congolese students reach their full potential.”
The radio lessons will broadcast three times a week in Lingala and Swahili through RTNC and Radio Okapi, as well as with private and community radios operating throughout Kinshasa, Haut-Katanga, and North-Kivu (including Beni and Butembo). They were developed in partnership with la Direction des Programmes et Matériels Didactiques (DIPROMAD) at the Ministry of Primary, Secondary, and Technical Education.
To support student learning, ACCELERE! will rely on an extensive network of teachers and community partners who have worked with the program since its founding in 2016. Over the past six years, ACCELERE! has provided more than 2.3 million teacher guides, student handbooks and student workbooks and intensive training to more than twenty-three thousand teachers. This new distance learning program builds upon more than $6.3 billion in total U.S. assistance over the past 20 years, including more than $1.5 billion for health.