analysisBy Richard Lee
As everyone knows, the education system in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is beset with enormous challenges - challenges that often seem insurmountable. But only a few people know that progress is slowly being made thanks to the dedicated work of the National Coalition for Education for All (CONEPT).
With institutional support from the DRC office of the Open Society Initiative for Southern Africa (OSISA), CONEPT has been far more active across the country in recent times - not just during the annual national week of action on education but throughout the year.
And CONEPT has been able to really expand its influence. From arranging advocacy training with counterparts in the provinces of Bas-Congo and Equateur to creating a much-needed website, the coalition has begun to make a significant impact.
It has garnered support from a host of provincial legislators in Bas-Congo and now plans to use a 'day of advocacy' to convince the provincial parliament to earmark at least 20 percent of the provincial budget for education initiatives.
CONEPT even managed to get a show on education policy and innovative programming in the sector broadcast on the popular Horizon 33 TV channel.
And while much of this work has gone largely unnoticed (even in the DRC), it has caught the eye of the Africa Network Campaign on Education For All (ANCEFA), which recently visited the DRC to discuss CONEPT's nomination to the board of ANCEFA Central Africa - well-deserved recognition for all the work that the coalition is doing.
The ANCEFA mission - including the organisation's Vice-President, Ms Blandine Ky, and its Coordinator for West and Central Africa, Solange Akpo - was primarily intended to discuss how the African Network and the coalition were going to work together in order to make CONEPT's three years on the regional board really count.
It was also an opportunity for the ANCEFA team to meet key members of the coalition and some of its partners, and decide how best to support the coalition in its new regional role.
It is hoped that CONEPT will work on the new Civil Society Education Fund, which has the support of multilateral organizations such as UNESCO, UNICEF and the World Bank who are part of the Global Partnership for Education.
It is a 'Fastrack Initiative', which includes institutional support and capacity building for civil society organisations working on education.
The fund is a two-year initiative, which will hopefully attract other countries in West and Central Africa - such as Gabon, Chad and Cameroon - to get involved.
And help them to make real progress in the struggle to provide quality basic education for all.
Global Campaign for Education