Capacity development in the Democratic Republic of Congo
The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has the world’s second largest area of contiguous tropical forests, after Brazil. In 2005, the country’s entire forestry research cadre comprised just six persons with Masters Degrees (in comparison, Brazil’s EMBRAPA boasts more than 8,500 PhDs). With funding from the EU, FTA partners’ strategy to improve governance by building capacity in the DRC included developing an innovative natural and social science Masters curriculum and an international PhD program was realized through multiple partnerships with, notably, the University of Kisangani and other universities and research organizations in France, the United Kingdom, Canada and Belgium.
By the end of 2016, we had trained 119 MSc students and supported 25 PhDs. A new project “Formation et Recherche dans la Tshopo” (FORETS), funded as part of an 11th European Development Fund program in the DRC, will train an additional 60 Masters and 5 PhD students between 2017-2021. These have been complemented by innovations in terms of novel teaching methods, the development of new Masters curricula materials, the development of an electronic library, joint local and international supervision of students, an annual Science Week event and article-based theses. The Ministry of Higher Education (MINESU) has since adopted the “Science Week” model for all universities and faculties in the country.