Since the Democratic Republic (D.R.) of Congo has long been hailed a classic example of state failure, one might imagine that the plethora of public goods being provided by non-state actors in the post-war period is the result of such actors stepping in to fill the void left by a deficient state unable to provide for its own citizens. In reality, however, the situation is much more complex. The Congolese state, following the Belgian model, has a long history of encouraging faith based organizations, and the Catholic Church in particular, to be the primary providers of education. After President Mobutu, the dictator for over three decades, launched a failed attempt in the 1970s to take back control of the education system for the state, he reached a compromise by creating the ‘convention’ system. This hybrid system allows the state to maintain control of the education system, while religious organizations are responsible for the day-to-day operation of schools. Though Christian groups have been running schools for several decades, the post-war period has seen the development of a new hybrid institution in the form of Islamic public schools. The minority Muslim population of Congo has historically been known for its quiescence and detachment from most public sectors, but empirical evidence from fieldwork reveals that the community has begun collaborating with the Congolese state to provide public education in recent years, and is doing so very effectively. This study argues that this has been possible because of a shift in historic tensions within the Muslim community itself, while this moment in post-conflict Congolese history presents an opportunity as the state is too weak to govern on its own, yet is also increasingly democratic and allows access to previously marginalized groups, such as the Muslim minority. Therefore, the provision of education in post-conflict D.R. Congo is an example of hybrid governance, requiring the cooperation and resources of both the Congolese state and religious organizations.
Leinweber, A.E. APPP Working Paper No. 22. Muslim public schools in post-conflict D.R. Congo: New hybrid institutions in a weak state. Africa Power and Politics Programme (APPP), Overseas Development Institute, London, UK (2012) 26 pp.