How can a quality education save lives and break the cycle of poverty for women in the Democratic Republic of Congo?
The Democratic Republic of Congo has one of the largest numbers of out-of-school children in the world. Since 2000, there has been a considerable effort by the government and major international organisations to increase educational opportunities and improve the standard of education in the DRC. For example, primary school completion rates have grown from 29% (2002) to 70% (2014). However, it is crucial to recognise that education development has to be focused on education that is equal access and of high quality. Sustainable Development Goal Four supports this, emphasising ensuring that education is inclusive, equitable and high quality.
Education and healthcare are an intersecting issue in the DRC. Major hospitals and medical centres are located in urban centres, with a lack of well-trained doctors and nurses being a universal issue across the entire country. Midwives and nurses are important life-savers in the DRC, where one in ten children die before their fifth birthday. WONDER partner organisation, the Institut Supérieur en Sciences Infirmières (ISSI), provides students with a high-quality education. Students consistently meet DRC government set targets for nurses and midwives of saving a minimum of one hundred lives a week. For example, ISSI is linked with Otema Hospital in Bas-Congo. Such partnerships increase the quality and inclusion of a WONDER-ISSI education through facilitating the practice of hands-on training for nurses and midwives.
WONDER and ISSI work to ensure that the women enrolled in ISSI programs receive an education that guarantees they enter the job-market with high-quality, marketable skills. ISSI trains local women as nurses and midwives to be adapted to the needs of the population.
This not only increases their chances of gaining a good job but ensures that they are able to earn a good salary, which ultimately benefits their family and community too. The program provides its students with the skills to kick-start their own careers: giving them a sense of purpose, a viable skill-set and the confidence to reach for their goals and take charge of their own future.
ISSI and Wonder work continuously to develop and adapt to the quality of the education provided by the school. Recently, ISSI has launched a Masters of Heath program. This seeks to develop students ability to act as multidisciplinary team members. For example, by training them to work and support the staff of the gynaecology, obstetrics and neonatology departments of Monkole Reference Hospital in Kinshasa.
The impact of quality education reaches far beyond the individual female students of ISSI. By training women to contribute to creating an effective and high-quality healthcare system in the DRC, Wonder and ISSI’s work transforms the lives of DRC families and communities too.