The educational system in the Democratic Republic of the Congo consists of four levels:

Ecole Maternelle ( Kindergarten)
Ecole Primaire (Primary School)
Ecole Secondaire (Secondary School)
Université and Instituts Supérieurs (Higher Education)

I. The Ecole Maternelle (Kindergarten)

A three-year program for children from three to five-years, which is not compulsory

II. The Ecole Primaire (Primary School)

a six-year program divided into three levels of two years each, namely, an elementary level for children six to seven years old; a middle level for children eight to nine years old, and a terminal level for children ten to eleven years old. The ages must be respected to pass from one level to another.

During the school year, the pupil is subject to constant control through a series of tutorials, quizzes and exams. To pass from one class to another, he must get a minimum overall percentage of 50% on this control and a minimum percentage of 50% in major subjects: French, Calculus, Sciences, Drawing, Reading and Writing. He can repeat the class only once.

A Certificat d'Ecole Primaire is awarded upon completion of the six-year program.

III. The Ecole Secondaire (Secondary School)

The Certificat d'Ecole Primaire serves as the basis for admission to secondary school.

This is a six-year program divided into lower level secondary education and upper level secondary education.

Lower Level Secondary Education

A two-year core program for general secondary education for children twelve to fifteen- years old. Final exams taken in all subjects on the program in one week. Minimum passing overall percentage: 50% (including marks on tutorials, quizzes and final exams)

Upper Level Secondary Education

A program from the third year of secondary education to the sixth year for children fourteen to seventeen years old who successfully complete the lower level secondary education.

From the third year, the student chooses an option (major) which is his intended field of study at the university or an institute of higher education. Upon completion of lower level secondary education, the student is admitted in either the cycle long (long cycle program) or the cycle court (short cycle program).

A. The Cycle Long (Long Cycle)

A four-year program divided into literary, scientific, commercial, social, artistic, vocational (for women), agricultural, veterinarian, medical, pedagogical and professional/technical sections.

Passing percentage from one class to another: minimum overall of 50% (including tutorials, quizzes and exams). At the end of the four-year program, the student sits for the Examen d'Etat ( State Examination) in all the subjects on the program in four days.

The Diplome d'Etat (State Diploma) is awarded upon passing the examen d'Etat with 50% or more.

B. The Cycle Court (Short Cycle)

A two to three-year program in professional/technical fields after completion of lower level secondary education. The Brevet (in area of specialization) is awarded after passing the exams in all subjects on the program with 50% or more.

Areas of concentration after the two-year core program of Lower Level Secondary Education Sections:

Latin-Philosophy 4yrs
Math-Physics 4yrs
Commerce 4yrs
Commerce & 4yrs Administration
Social Sciences 4yrs
Plastic Art
Dramatic Arts 4 yrs
Tailoring 2yrs
Hostess Training
Tailoring 4yrs Hostess Training
Agriculture 4yrs
Food &Nutrition
Veterinary 4yrs
Auto-mechanics 3yrs
Masonry 3yrs
General Mechanics 4yrs
Electricity 4yrs Construction
Health Care 5/6 yrs Education
General Pedagogy 4yrs
Physical Education

* The school year is divided into two semesters and each semester (6 months) into two periods of 3 months each. At the end of a period, the student must have sat for as many quizzes as the hours of a course per week. For example, for a course of 5 hr./week, the student must sit for at least 5 quizzes (plus tutorials) at the end of a period.

* At the end of the first semester, the student must sit for examinations in all the subjects taken during the semester in one week for lower classes or four days for upper classes. He/she must get a minimum overall average of 55% in upper classes and 50% in lower classes. Otherwise, he/she must step back to a lower class.

* At the end of the second semester, the school organizes its final examinations for four days. The student in the upper sixth must get 55% minimum overall total on these examinations. In case of failure, he/she can only be allowed to sit second time for two subjects not specific to the section in which he/she is enrolled. In lower classes, he/she must get 50% minimum overall total and can sit a second time for four subjects he/she failed.

* The final grade at the end of each school year consists of the total marks earned during the first and second semesters.

The Brevet (In area of specialization) is awarded at the end of the Cycle Court (Short Cycle) program.

The student in the humanities or Cycle Long (Long Cycle) must sit for the Examen d'Etat (State Examination) organized by the State in four days in all the subjects on the program of each section.

The Diplome d'Etat (State Diploma) is awarded upon passing the Examen d'Etat with a minimum percentage of 50%.

Prepared by:

Nzama Valinande
Educational Adviser
Kinsasha, Congo

October 2000