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Bursaries : scams and realities

To grant bursaries is a commitment which is subject to selection criteria ranging from school performance of candidates to their age. Undoubtedly, for a candidate, to receive a bursary is a magic key. This opportunity that Congolese students dream about is in reality a complex equation.  Owing to culture, Congolese students are used to resorting to dream sellers and have a preference for bursaries for studies abroad.

When a young Congolese envisages going to go study abroad, eyes are set on European and American countries. Africa is rarely selected. Nearly all Congolese students go for a huge quest for a bursary, which is seen as a factor for success.

Such euphoria is justified by realities which are too obvious to overlook even if one was blindfolded, because other senses are able to perceive the dire decor.  Overcrowded auditoriums, lack of professors, obsolete equipment… Students in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Republic of Congo face various difficulties, despite noticeable improvements in primary and secondary school.

For the most part, university auditoriums date from the colonial period. Those were built to accommodate a very limited number of students.

The first challenge for Congolese students upon joining university is over-large classes.  With over 30,000 students, Congolese universities cannot harbour students in appropriate ways.  The second major problem is the stark lack of professors. UNESCO recommends 25 to 45 students per professor, according to training cycle.

On average only 7 percent of young people have access to higher education in Africa against 76 percent in Western countries. Who are the young people joining university? What are their living conditions? What kinds of solutions are presented to them for quality education? So many questions are being raised today.

University libraries are often tiny and do not contain specialized and recent manuals, laboratories are extremely old or simply nonexistent in other cases. There arises the need to connect with the outer world thanks to technological means which are available to all. Is higher education reserved for elites in the Democratic Republic of Congo and in the Republic Of Congo? Nevertheless, more and more boys and girls, children of peasants, and young people coming from marginalized social classes are welcomed in university. As for the wealthy, they keep trying to go abroad. Their favorite destinations are France, North America, or China, Maroc, Tunisia…

With this hard situation, difficult to interpret, solution might as well come from authorities. Reality is nevertheless different from students’ expectations. As a result, agencies for facilitation have mushroomed so as to help our dear boys and girls who are so overwhelmed with the ambition to study abroad.

Many rip-offs have been recorded, but given that information circulates slowly, there still are many victims. The approach is simple and very attractive.  Crooks are easily recognized due to their operating mode: low prices to candidates, calculated to attract more people.

With 2000 CFA Francs to create a file at the agency, the student is not price sensitive, and that is all it takes. A phone call with the target country, email etc… The candidate is far from perceiving that he is entangled in a net designed to capture his meagre resources which have been amassed with great sacrifice.

However, merit-based and social criteria bursary systems are in place but often remain insufficient or very selective.

 Therefore, confronted with abandonment and crooks, students without bursaries must satisfy their need for education without any support and any financial help except symbolic ones. In such conditions, it is difficult to pursue studies without family support.

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