For my thesis project and now this Steinmetz presentation, I have chosen to talk about the education system in Belgian Congo, or the Democratic Republic of Congo. My research on the establishment of the modern education system in Congo reveals that it is important to talk about colonization. My work thus goes into greater detail about the Belgian colonial rule and the impact it had on the change in the Congolese education system from a traditional perspective to a Belgian religious education, and then from a Belgian religious approach to education to an independent Congolese revamp of education.
As I look at the education system from these three points, it is important to connect them to what was going on at the time for the Congolese people under Belgian rule. The change in the political, social and economic status of the nation at the arrival of Leopold II versus the arrival of the religious Belgians differs from the change that occurred politically, socially and economically at the arrival of the religious Belgians, and then the departure of the religious Belgians versus the rise of a new-found Congolese way of life.
I discovered the social, economic and political impact of the Belgian colonial rule of the Democratic Republic of Congo through learning about how they impacted, shaped and changed the way of learning for the Congolese. Through my research, I learned that the Congolese education system went through changes heavily influenced by the ideals of Leopold II and the Belgians on the group of people they believed to be superior. Through the Congolese version of the intellectual enlightenment, also commonly referred to as the “guerre scolaire”, the Congolese were able to fight for an education system that worked in their favor in order to educate themselves in a way that isn't based on the prejudice of Leopold II and the Belgians that came after him. Today, we see the Congolese people of the Democratic Republic of Congo work towards an education system that is equal for people in urban and rural areas of the country. This is a drastic improvement from the inequalities that presented itself during the colonial period for Congo.