Congo Education Partners
The mission of Congo Education Partners (CEP) is to educate future stewards of the Congo rainforest by building the capacity of Djolu Technical College of Rural Development (ISDR-Djolu) in sustainable agriculture, forest conservation, and public health. CEP seeks to:
- strengthen the College’s curriculum and educational capacity,
- continue upgrading ISDR-Djolu’s computer center, library and other facilities,
- help develop the College’s agricultural extension station,
- provide scholarships to students,
- facilitate ISDR-Djolu’s outreach and international partnerships, and
- strengthen the College’s governance and management capacity.
The Congo Basin rainforest provides ecological benefits to all of humanity. Nearly half the remaining rainforest in Africa is in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), but this forest is threatened by wildlife poaching, unsustainable agriculture, logging, and population growth. Tshuapa Province, where Djolu is located, is one of the most heavily forested and least developed parts of the DRC and includes all or part of five nature reserves. Successfully reconciling development and conservation in the region requires multiple strategies, and local access to higher education in rural sciences is fundamental to all of these approaches.
In Tshuapa Province, most people have few alternatives to farming, trading, fishing and hunting to feed their families. But like elsewhere, young people urgently want to learn and to change the world. They see the malnourished babies and hear their fathers’ stories about how the forests were once full of wildlife. But without higher education, change seems impossible.
ISDR-Djolu has graduated 72 students since 2007 and 9 more are graduating in 2017. Graduates have written thesis monographs about important local issues including control of soil erosion, illegal sales of bushmeat from endangered species, impacts of agroforestry and slash-and-burn agriculture on crop yields, gender participation in decision-making at area nature reserves, marketing of non-timber forest products, childhood malnutrition, and early childbearing as an obstacle to women’s development. CEP’s upcoming priorities include building the capacity of ISDR-Djolu’s agricultural extension station, strengthening the College’s curriculum and the educational capacity of its faculty, providing scholarships for students, and upgrading the College’s classroom facilities and infrastructure.
Ingrid Schulze, founder and Executive Director of CEP, and Albert Lotana Lokasola, the founder of ISDR-Djolu, have worked together in the Djolu area since 2006. Ingrid is a conservationist and parent who believes that building the capacity of young people to save their forests and wildlife greatly multiplies the impact of international funding. Albert is a Congolese biologist who is the founder and president of Vie Sauvage, a Djolu area conservation and development organization. Since 2011, he also represents DjoluTerritory in the DRC Parliament.