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Reshaping the reach of the state: the politics of teacher payment reform in the DR Congo



We analyse the politics of the reform of teacher payment modalities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in light of the uneven territorial reach of the DRC state. The reform focused on extending this reach by paying all teachers via a bank account, replacing long-standing shared governance arrangements between state and faith-based organisations with a public-private partnership. By using qualitative and quantitative data, we map the political practices accompanying the implementation of the reform. While the reform itself was officially deemed a success, its intended effects were almost completely offset in rural areas. Moreover, governance of teacher payments was not rationalised but instead became even more complex and spatially differentiated. In sum, the reform has rendered governance processes more opaque and deepened the existing unevenness in the geography of statehood.
Reshaping the reach of the state:
The politics of a teacher payment reform in the DR Congo
Article forthcoming in the Journal of Modern African Studies
Institute of Development Policy (University of Antwerp), Lange Sint-Annastraat 7, 2000 Ant-
werp, Belgium
Institute of Development Policy (University of Antwerp), Lange Sint-Annastraat 7, 2000 Ant-
werp, Belgium
We analyse the politics of the reform of teacher payment modalities in the Democratic Re-
public of Congo (DRC) in light of the uneven territorial reach of the DRC state. The reform
focused on extending this reach by paying all teachers via a bank account, replacing long-
standing shared governance arrangements between state and faith-based organizations with a
public-private partnership. By using qualitative and quantitative data, we map the political
practices accompanying the implementation of the reform. While the reform itself was offi-
cially deemed a success, its intended effects were almost completely offset in rural areas.
Moreover, governance of teacher payments was not rationalized but instead became even
more complex and spatially differentiated. In sum, the reform has rendered governance pro-
cesses more opaque and it deepened the existing unevenness in the geography of statehood.
Keywords: reform; policy; public-private partnership; faith-based organization; public
services; Democratic Republic of Congo; teacher payment; negotiation.
Abbreviated title: Reshaping the reach of the state.
In 2011, the Congolese government engaged in a public-sector reform unprecedented
in scale and territorial reach in the country’s contemporary history: the so-called bancarisation
reform. Assigning individual bank accounts to all civil servants, the reform had three major
goals: paying salaries on time, paying salaries without deductions, and achieving congruency
between the civil servants actually working and those represented on the payroll. Formally, the
reform was a response to donor pressure and part of a larger attempt to establish a reliable
payroll management system (Moshonas, 2014). While the reform was justified the civil ser-
vice payroll accounts for 67% of all official government spending (Marysse and Megersa,
2018) its implementation must be seen as an attempt to overcome what Boone (2012, p. 625)
called the uneven territorial reach of the state.
Indeed, the country’s size, infrastructural endowments and geographically uneven pat-
terns of governance have long posed significant challenges to anyone seeking to penetrate and
govern across the Congolese territory (Brunea and Simon, 1991; Pourtier, 2009; Schouten,
2013; Verweijen and van Meeteren, 2015). The unequal presence of state infrastructure and
personnel goes back to colonisation and has led the state to count on other actors to implement
its actions. The education sector is a prime example of this hybrid mode of governance (Titeca
and De Herdt, 2011). Faith-based organisations (FBOs), which manage the lion’s share of pub-
lic schools, have the prerogative to recruit and deploy teachers. Until recently, they also dis-
tributed salaries and the government never had a complete overview of those teachers actually
working. After the recent expansion of schools, approximately 400,000 paid public-school
teachers now work far out in very remote areas (Brandt, 2017). Bancarisation was thus the
government’s attempt to bypass FBOs and gain direct access to teachers via bank accounts.
In practice, however, the bancarisation reform had to cope with the uneven territorial
reach of the banking sector. The reform’s full success depended on a vital prerequisite that was
absent: the existence of banks throughout the Congolese territory. While banks had indeed
started to cover major urban areas on the eve of the reform, in a vast country with fewer roads
than Luxembourg, hardly anyone lives anywhere near a bank branch (The Economist, 2015),
especially in towns and rural areas. Yet intriguingly, in the DRC, the reform came to be pre-
sented as a resounding success (Moshonas, 2018, p. 6; see also Marysse and Megersa, 2018,
p. 17). How is this possible, given such striking infrastructural absences?
We propose to go beyond prevalent understandings of reforms as instruments in the
hands of an elite that seeks to reinforce the status quo with few changes to actual practices
(Trefon, 2011; Cuvelier and Mumbunda, 2013; Englebert and Kasongo, 2016; Jené and
Englebert, 2019). Despite the fact that various stakeholders used the reform to pursue their own
interests which is a truism it would be only partially correct to blame deeper politics
(Englebert and Kasongo, 2016, p. 27) either for its success or for the lack of it.
Instead, our main argument is that the way the reform unfolded was not orchestrated by
an elite, but was the result of an assemblage of actors providers and intermediaries that both
hid the reform’s flaws and worked to save it, yet also mitigated its effects in rural areas. Indeed,
the bancarisation reform went conspicuously uncontested, but we show that the reasons for this
vary widely between city and countryside. While in the cities, teachers, and civil servants more
generally, eventually appreciated the reform, the situation was completely different in the re-
mote parts of the country. There, it only survived at the price of accepting a gap between reform
image and reality. This considerably mitigated the reform’s ambitions. Specifically, the uneven
character of the territorial reach of the state was reproduced rather than overcome.
Conceptually, our analysis draws on the literature on state infrastructural power and the
ethnography of development interventions (Mann, 1984; Mosse, 2004; Li, 2005, 2007b; Mosse
and Lewis, 2006). From the first literature, we learn that weak state infrastructural power not
only reflects long-term geographical, demographic or historico-economic processes, but also
mirrors the geopolitical strategies deployed by states to stay in control. Though we buy into
this argument, we also emphasise the role, at least potentially, played by non-state actors in
this political process. The literature on the ethnography of development interventions allows
us to flesh out this argument, as it takes a broad view of political manoeuvring, in-between the
open expression of voice and silent exit. In other words, the absence of open contestation
should not be confused with agreement.
After detailing our conceptual framework, we develop the empirical case of the bancarisation
reform in three steps: First, we situate the preparation of the bancarisation reform vis-à-vis
preceding reforms. Second, we analyse strategies used by banks to cover the countryside. We
focus on the largely rural areas in the newly-created province of Haut-Katanga. The study
draws on a wider research endeavour that includes 354 semi-structured interviews over a total
of fifteen months in four different research periods (July-December 2013; January-May 2015;
December 2015-May 2016; March and May 2018). Adopting a multi-scalar entangled social
logics approach (Olivier de Sardan, 2005, p. 12), interviews with representatives of all relevant
stakeholders were conducted in the national capital of Kinshasa, the provincial capital Lubum-
bashi and in all six rural educational sub-divisions: teachers and principals; government and
religious officials; staff from private companies and NGOs in charge of providing salaries.
Second, comes an analysis of the reform’s survival. Here, we combine the qualitative analysis
with national-level quantitative data so as to generalise from our case. We use maps to illustrate
some of these data. Third, we conclude by pointing out what this analysis can tell us about the
social reproduction of the state’s uneven territorial reach.
Michael Mann’s (1984, 2008) definition of despotic and infrastructural power provides a good
start when it comes to discussing the design and implementation of state reform, in post-colo-
nial settings in general and in the DRC in particular. Mann proposes the concept of despotic
power to describe the range of decisions the state elite is empowered to make without consul-
tation with civil society groups (2008, p. 355). However, exercising power over space also
requires a vast socio-material network (Schouten, 2013). Mann proposes the concept of ‘infra-
structural power’ (IP) to denote the state’s ‘capacity to implement political decisions through-
out the realm (Mann, 1984, p. 189). Mann argues that, in the case of the former colonies in
Africa, it is very important to bear in mind the spatially uneven character of the (post-)colonial
states’ IP: colonial powers had not in truth governed the whole colony. Instead, they had fo-
cused on high-value zones where minerals could be extracted or where plantation agriculture
could be practiced (Mann, 2008, p. 363). The Congo is a prime example of a territorialization
of authority that is based on a dichotomy between l’Afrique utile and the economic margins
(Verweijen and van Meeteren, 2015). These colonial patterns of uneven infrastructural power
were to a large extent inherited and perpetuated by post-independence states and transnational
private networks (vom Hau, 2012; Verweijen and van Meeteren, 2015).
This (hi)story of infrastructural power in post-colonial states needs to be enriched in
two related ways, however. First, beyond factors related to geography, demography, and his-
torical endowment, infrastructural power also partly reflects geopolitics: Rulers can incorpo-
rate, not incorporate, or abandon regions, social groups, and functions strategically, as a func-
tion of their attempts to govern effectively and hold onto power (Boone, 2012, p. 627). This
point has been made for the DRC too, e.g. by Hoenke (2009, p. 10) who argued that the Mobutu
regime was strengthened by not building national communication and transport infrastructure
(see also Schouten, 2013). This observation reminds us that Infrastructural power is a two-
way street: It also enables civil society parties to control the state (Mann, 2008, p. 356). As a
consequence, uneven territorial statehood may be the logical outcome of the regime’s strategy
to preserve its (despotic) power. Secondly, while Boone’s perspective on the geopolitical driv-
ers of state infrastructural power remains state-centred, her proposal to understand IP as the
product of negotiation and conflict between central and local actors (2012, p. 627) also allows
for a more decentred reading of these processes: what about the local actors themselves, what
is their interest in extending -or not- the state’s infrastructural power, what means do they have
to enrol the state in their projects and, last but not least, what does all this imply for the state’s
ability to effectively implement reform? These questions also resound with Weiss’ definition
of IP as ‘the state’s ability to link up with civil society groups, to negotiate support for its
projects, and to coordinate public-private resources to that end (2006, p. 168) adding that in-
frastructural power is fundamentally negotiated power (Weiss, 2006, p. 172).
At this point, we can draw on Tania Li’s work to add more ethnographic nuances and
shades to Mann’s and Weiss’ raw brush strokes of the contours of IP. Li (2007a, p. 276) pro-
poses to look at the realisation of a particular policy as an assemblage of heterogeneous ele-
ments, material and non-material. She argues that all types of public action, lest they are im-
posed by force, need to be socially, technically and politically situated: First, there are pro-
cesses and interactions, histories, solidarities and attachments, that cannot be reconfigured ac-
cording to plan (Li, 2007c, p. 17). Second, Li points to available forms of knowledge and
technique (ibid.). And a third limit is formed by the practice of critique, or politics, the pos-
sibility to challenge its diagnoses and prescriptions (ibid.). The possibility to contest the ra-
tionale of a policy, in whatever way, obliges policy makers to respond, but political contestation
is in itself also a patterned practice. Or rather, a range of patterned practices: These practices
may vary from the routine mechanisms of voice and exit that make up the dynamics of multi-
party politics in established democratic regimes to much more ambiguous types of contestation
that take place at an infrapolitical level (Scott, 1990), i.e. within the framework defined by the
state, or at least partly reproducing it. To be sure, in contrast to Scott (1990), Li puts the em-
phasis on a plethora of forms of adapting, coping, accommodating, negotiating, etc. She calls
these processes reassembling, defined as grafting on new elements and reworking old ones;
deploying existing discourses to new ends; transposing the meanings of key terms. (Li, 2007b,
p. 265)
In other words, the unfolding of a reform does not necessarily follow a pre-designed
homogeneous implementation but rather needs to be seen as the outcome of multiple acts of
harmonisation, translation and composition (Mosse and Lewis, 2006). While a pre-designed
reform can encounter serious difficulties when put into practice, the different actors involved
in a reform are able to come to terms with it through the work of reassembling. It goes without
saying that non-state actors’ capacity to reassemble a reform is itself highly unequal and con-
tingent on local circumstances and conjunctures. As Rod Rhodes analysed accurately for the
case of the UK, reassembling has the effect of hollowing out the state’s ability to act effectively
(Rhodes, 2007, p. 1248): it may still intervene, but there is an inevitable gap between what it
intends to do and what it eventually achieves. The latter is to be negotiated within a policy
network of non-state actors (Diemel and Cuvelier, 2015). This also means that the state’s mode
of operation shifts, from a command operating code to diplomacy, or negotiation (Rhodes,
2007, p. 1248).
The project of the bancarisation of teachers’ salaries allows us to discuss these matters
in empirical detail. Within the state’s discourse, the bancarisation of teachers’ salaries was de-
fended as an attempt to redress the historical deficiency of state infrastructural power: The
reform was indeed supposed to vastly improve the capacity and spatial reach of the state ad-
ministration throughout its territory. The problem, however, is that the reform itself must first
be implemented: how so, in a country with a very poorly and unevenly developed network of
bank offices? More specifically, in the more remote parts of the country how exactly did the
bancarisation reform take shape? Initially set up as a way to overcome the uneven territorial
reach of the state, our hypothesis is that it converged into its intended outcome only in those
areas -the major urban centers- where the state’s IP was more or less in place already, but the
way in which it was reassembled in other regions led to a further entrenching of the state’s
unequal reach. This hypothesis is broadly in line with Boone’s suggestion that the contours of
IP are politically determined, but, at variance with Boone’s stress on geo- or socio-strategic
considerations on the part of the central state, we rather explain this outcome in terms of the
divergent political capabilities of local actors to react to the central state’s proposed reform.
In what follows, we first describe the bancarisation reform as the most recent attempt
in a long line of projects with the goal of collecting data on state agents and facilitating an
effective and transparent state administration, before zooming in on two types of reassembling:
first by the banks themselves, then by the actors side-lined by the initial reform project.
The bancarisation reform was not the first effort to challenge administrative deficiency in the
Congolese education sector. The issue came up for the first time in the early eighties (Gould
1979). Due to a prolonged economic crisis, systematic embezzlement of public funds and the
government’s incapacity to repay debts, the country fell under the auspices of Structural Ad-
justment Programs. These programs sought to cut public expenditures and reduce the public
sector. The education system was identified as a major source of inefficient government spend-
ing. Due to mounting pressure by the IMF, a new institution was created: the Service de Con-
trôle de la Paie des Enseignants (SECOPE, Department for the control of teacher salary pay-
ments). SECOPE had the objective to identify and subsequently reduce the number of public-
school teachers. SECOPE did so rather successfully and extended the state’s infrastructural
power. For the first time in Congolese history, most teachers’ identities were centrally man-
aged. SECOPE was not supposed to intervene in the actual process of payment, however.
Money was dispatched from Kinshasa to provincial banks, where it was picked up by school
network administrators and distributed to school principals. This has always proved rather easy
in urban areas and challenging in rural regions. In remote areas, cash went through the hands
of several intermediaries before reaching teachers. A World Bank public expenditure tracking
study (World Bank, 2008, p. 84) suggested however that, on average, only about five percent
of disbursed salaries did not reach teachers.
The major source of loss was not situated in the payment system itself, but rather up-
stream, at the moment of listing teachers on the payroll. In a context of rampant payroll fraud
after the political and economic turmoil in the early nineties, payroll updates in the 1990s be-
came increasingly delayed and erratic. Also, fictitious teachers and schools re-appeared on the
payroll. SECOPE only became subject to renewed donor and government attention in the early
2000s (World Bank, 2004; Verhaghe, 2007; Andrianne, 2008). From the perspective of poverty
reduction, returning donors led by the World Bank wanted to temporarily fund teacher
salaries on the condition of the improved reliability of SECOPE’s database. This condition was
subsequently inscribed in key government documents (Brandt, 2018). Between 2005 and 2013,
several attempts were made to reform SECOPE, conduct censuses, identify all teachers and
establish a comprehensive database. Although more than 200,000 teachers were added to the
database (though not all of them also to the payroll!), the system remained porous and unrelia-
ble (ibid.).
This is where the bancarisation reform comes in. The policy of paying all civil servants’
salaries into individual bank accounts represented an entirely new framing of the problem. Re-
sponding to donor conditions in the Government’s Economic Program from 2003 to eliminate
arrears of salary payments to public servants, the reform was conceived as a public-private
partnership between the Congolese government and commercial banks, united under the um-
brella of the Congolese Association of Banks. The main government actors in the reform pro-
cess were the Prime Minister, the Pay Directorate within the Ministry of Budget, the Ministry
of Finance, the Comité de Suivi de la Paie (Payment Monitoring Committee) within the Central
Bank, and the Ministry of Civil Service.
In May 2011 various public and private stakeholders met for the first preparatory meet-
ing in the Hotel Sultani in Kinshasa. They foresaw a gradual implementation, from urban to
rural areas. The bancarisation project started with six banks in August 2011 to pay members of
ministerial cabinets and secretary generals via individual accounts. Prime Minister Matata Po-
nyo announced the expansion of the bancarisation of public workers at his inaugural speech in
May 2012. In the second stage, the bancarisation was made operational in some large urban
areas (July 2012). In the third stage, bancarisation was gradually extended to include provincial
capitals (October 2012) and thirdly sub-regional capitals (chef-lieux des districts et certaines
communes) in February 2013. The Protocole d’Accord sur la paie des agents et fonctionnnaires
de l’état between the government and the Congolese Association of Banks was signed on De-
cember 1st, 2012, several months after the reform had been launched. Finally, in May 2013,
bancarisation was supposed to have reached teachers in rural areas. Under the auspices of the
Congolese Association of Banks, the Congolese territory was subdivided among fifteen private
banks willing to engage in the payment of teachers’ salaries.
Confidence in the banking sector was very low in the country as, due to hyperinflation,
banks were often confronted with liquidity shortages, especially in the years 1991-1994. From
the turn of the millennium, however, banks started a slow recovery. Though teachers were not
the most desired clients (Interview with a banker in Kinshasa, 23.12.2013), banks saw their
participation in the bancarisation policy as a long-term investment and an opportunity to
broaden their client base and acquire a presence in the interior provinces with a relatively thin
monetary economy.
The public-private partnership was marked by several characteristics. First, according
to the president of the Comité de Suivi de la Paie /Banque Centrale du Congo the theory was
that bancarisation encourages banks to open new branches. This effectively happened in Kin-
shasa, especially concerning ATMs, but not really in the province (Interview, 18.12.2015).
Second, the assignment of banks to different territories was not according to objective criteria.
Some banks received clients in areas where they had no branches, although other banks would
have been present. Distribution of clients was about sharing the cake’ (Interview with the pres-
ident of the Comité de Suivi de la Paie /Banque Centrale du Congo, 18.12.2015). Third, this
was a public-private partnership in which teachers didn’t have a choice to change banks nor an
exit option: the market mechanism was switched off and banks acquired a government-backed
monopoly on public servants’ bank accounts. Initially, the government compensated for this
public role and took charge of banking fees, but after some years it reneged on this commitment
for teachers with a monthly income above US $100.
Interestingly, the implementation design neglected early warning signs. The official
summary of the mentioned meeting in May 2011 noted for instance the insufficiency of com-
mercial banks and the lack of transportation fees in order to transport money from provincial
capitals to rural areas. This knowledge was available, as it is also mirrored in relevant reports
on the topic (Dolan et al., 2012), but apparently it was not considered a serious enough issue.
Along similar lines, central educational stakeholders national and provincial Minis-
tries of Education, the faith-based organisations that run most of the schools, SECOPE and
teacher unions were side-lined from the preparation process, even though the Ministry of
Education manages about two thirds of all civil servants. This is surprising, given the power of
the Catholic church and other FBOs in weighing on educational reforms (Titeca and De Herdt,
2011). SECOPE staff, for example, claimed that they were only invited to participate in the
reform when implementation problems emerged in 2013. In fact, the reform did not include
existing knowledge about teacher payment modalities (Verhaghe, 2007; Andrianne, 2008). In
Mann’s (1984) words, the government over-estimated its despotic power as it designed the
reform without including major societal actors.
However, the actual process of bancarisation of teachers’ salaries is fundamentally con-
strained by the IP the state was counting on: banking infrastructure. In 2011, only 3.7% of
adults held a bank account and in 2014 the country counted on only 277 bank offices, with two
thirds of them concentrated in Kinshasa and Katanga provinces (Deloitte 2017). What all of
the rural territories have in common are widely dispersed schools and a poorly developed in-
frastructure, barring some exceptions. Especially during the rainy season, particular areas re-
main almost unreachable by car. There is also knowledge about schools’ locations which exists
only locally: for instance, network administrators clearly know where their schools are located
and how to get there, but this knowledge has not been made accessible to providers. It doesn’t
sound like a good idea, in those circumstances, not to include the school network administrators
in the planning of the reform and to presume that the banking network would be able to supplant
the school networks in reaching out to all individual teachers. It is also difficult to understand
this error of omission as part of a geopolitical strategy; even though the bancarisation reform
eventually strengthened the regime by further entrenching territorial unevenness, this was ra-
ther the unintended effect of a more complex causal chain.
At this point, we narrow our focus to salary payments in six predominantly rural terri-
tories in the province of Haut-Katanga: Kambove, Kasenga, Kipushi, Mitwaba, Pweto, and
Sakania (see also map 1). The interesting feature of Haut-Katanga is that, besides Kinshasa
itself, it is the province most endowed with bank branches. Concretely, six urban areas had at
least one bank (Kasumbalesa, Kilwa, Likasi, Lubumbashi, Pweto, Sakania). Here, most teach-
ers collected their salary in the nearest bank branch. Yet, as we will see, this does not mean the
problem of distance does not exist in Haut-Katanga. Banks had three ways to cope with the
distance between themselves and teachers: setting up payment points, sub-contracting mobile
phone companies, sub-contracting other service providers, making teachers travel to banks.
First, banks could set up temporary payment points. In Lubumbashi, for instance, Eco-
bank set up a temporary payment office: The bank schedules the payment days in advance and
communicates this to the schools. However, such schemes are frequently disrupted which
obliges teachers to return to Lubumbashi several days later, each time leaving their school
classes behind. Reasons for these disruptions can either be attributed to banks’ poor organisa-
tion, or to teachers not respecting the schedules: Teachers are keen on withdrawing their sala-
ries as quickly as possible, due to either financial necessity teachers are poorly paid and need
cash or a lack of trust in the banking system. Moreover, the conditions under which payments
are processed are harsh: payments take place manually without debit cards, in small rooms,
during hot weather, a mass of people, surrounded by policemen and soldiers who likewise
withdraw their salaries and who are often prioritised.
A second option was to sub-contract the mobile phone companies Airtel and Tigo. This
is a well-known practice in other countries (World Bank, 2010, p. 20). Banks opened accounts
for teachers and received the normal monthly government payment of US $3.5 per client of
which they transferred between US $1.2 and US $2 to the phone companies for their operations.
The latter saw the bancarisation as a huge opportunity to kick-start mobile money agents in the
DRC. The mobile money phenomenon has been most successful in Kenya, whereas penetration
in DRC is still very low. In theory, once teachers received their salary, the companies would
send an SMS to teachers who could then move to a cash point to withdraw their salary. Teach-
ers would only need their phones, a SIM card from the provider and a password to make a
transaction or withdraw money. Inscription would be uncomplicated as only an identity card
and an inscription document would be required yet things turned out differently in reality.
In the case of the Kambove territory, for instance, Ecobank turned to Tigo to cover the
rural regions. Tigo, however, had poor coverage in Kambove and mobile money was rarely
used. Therefore, teachers hardly ever received notifications when money was transferred to
their account and had difficulties withdrawing the money that they urgently needed. In general,
they did not desire mobile money but wanted to cash it in as soon as possible. The network of
Tigo payment points wasn’t sufficiently resourced or organised to provide this service. In gen-
eral, criticism of mobile phone companies was reportedly widespread at the time
(KongoTimes!, 2013; Brandt, 2014). Moreover, Tigo and Airtel paid slightly later than banks
as the money first had to be transferred from banks to their accounts. Furthermore, the compa-
nies assumed that everyone possesses and knows how to use a phone; they did not have the
time for a test period. Even if teachers had a phone, they now needed a SIM card from the
respective provider. As reported in Jeune Afrique (2013), the person responsible for these op-
erations at Tigo complained that mobile phone companies were tricked. As confirmed in an
interview with a senior Tigo manager (15.12.2015), they were only asked to participate in the
reform at the last minute, and could only accept the most rural areas, as banks had already
distributed urban areas between themselves. Instead of starting with an analysis of local capac-
ities, contracts were given in Kinshasa. Perhaps the following letter to the Provincial Governor
of the Central Bank, written by 24 teachers of Kafubu, located at just 20km from Lubumbashi,
tells it all:
Since Airtel has taken care of our payments, severe delays have taken place and we regretfully observe
these manoeuvres: belated payment of salaries, often two or three weeks after our colleagues from
other places; payments during night hours, sometimes by the local SECOPE representative […], while
the provider AIRTEL is absent […]. Given all the grievances that we enumerated above, we […] make
some propositions to solve these difficulties. Mainly: Realising the bancarisation efforts […].
Because of all of these shortcomings and their poor performance, Airtel and Tigo largely
dropped out of the market in Haut-Katanga.
A third option for banks to cover rural areas was to sub-contract the company Groupe
Service (GS) that offers to carry out a range of services, from cleaning to transporting money.
GS is comparable to banks’ payment points and phone companies, in that it pays teachers in-
dividually and sets up payment points for three or four days. It has been reported multiple times
however that teachers arrived at a given location when GS had already left. Further, the use of
GS does only partly solve the problem of distance, as villagers still have to travel quite some
distance to the nearest GS payment point. Another important disadvantage of these private
parties is that they are not under direct government supervision. The banks themselves directly
sub-contract them, without mediation or the involvement of government agencies. SECOPE
staff does not have any information about them, except that which teachers report and what
they observe on paydays.
Though some of these solutions are reassemblings and reworkings that involved new
organisations or ways of working, none of these strategies question the essence of the bancari-
sation, namely that teachers’ pay is deposited in an individual bank account. This means that,
in principle, they have to go to the bank or to a point of payment themselves.
Given the prob-
lems described lack of bank branches, payment points set up for only a few days, etc.
Checks and procurement exist but were observed only rarely.
however, this logic means that teachers have to travel long distances to withdraw their salaries.
In the next section, we provide national-level data for this negative side-effect of the reform
and we will argue that these distances have caused another reassembling of the way that
bancarisation was made to work or not.
The adopted procedure turns thousands of teachers into collateral damage of an operation that should
have been implemented gradually. It should have taken into account the actual socio-economic, geo-
graphical and infrastructural context of the DRC. (KongoTimes!, 2013)
What did the situation look like after a few years of implementation? Map 1 shows the
average distance between schools and the nearest point of payment (whether a proper bank or
simply a point of payment), one year after the reform’s implementation in rural areas. To be
sure, given the very different types of physical infrastructure (quality of roads, means of trans-
portation, etc.), distance is not a fully accurate measurement of the length and inconveniences
of a journey. Further to this, we composed the map on the basis of a proposal by SECOPE to
reduce distances. For these reasons, the map shows a rather optimistic view of the actual situ-
ation and distances in reality can be expected to be larger than this map suggests.
Map 1: Average distances from school to payment locations in 2014 per territory
(SECOPE proposal)
Source: compiled based on SECOPE’s proposal for reassigning schools to
points of payment (DRC/MoE/SECOPE, 2014)
These data underline the extent to which the idea to overcome the problem of uneven
state infrastructural power by counting on the banking network involved a leap of imagination:
Most teachers had to walk or cycle at least 5-15 kms, but for about one third this distance
extended to more than 15, and up to 85 kms. The territories with points of payment within a
distance of 5km were really exceptional. For example, in the conflict-affected territory of
Pweto (Province of Haut-Katanga), one agglomeration lies 70 km away from the nearest bank,
with roads in a very poor condition. Teachers cross this distance on bikes most of the time.
Moreover, they often have to wait for several days in Pweto. The longest distance from a school
to the bank was around 300 km according to an educational administrator which underlines
the optimistic nature of map 1. In some cases, teachers need two days to arrive and two days
to return by bike. Not even considering the physical stress on an (aging) teaching workforce,
this alone means four days of absence from the classroom. Furthermore, huge transaction costs
of up to 50 per cent of the monthly salary occurred as teachers needed to pay for travel, food
and sometimes shelter. The bank BIC/FBN, which was assigned to Pweto, decided explicitly
not to offer the service to bring salaries to the teachers. As reported by an employee of
BIC/FBN: There are obviously access problems for the teachers living far away from the city
of Pweto, but there are no mobile counters. We have evaluated that this is too dangerous, es-
pecially surrounding this city. (Interview, 21.01.2015).
Whereas before, the faith-based school networks were responsible for payment and
thereby solved an important collective action problem in transporting salaries, all teachers now
had to actually bridge the distances to the point of payment individually. If, before the bancari-
sation, the real cost of disbursing salaries could be estimated at 5%, the transaction costs
charged by the banks already exceeded this cost.
In the next section, we deepen our understanding of the way in which the reform was
reassembled, including by actors initially side-lined by the reform.
In order to document more precisely how the bancarisation reform in rural Haut-Ka-
tanga was reassembled from outside during its implementation, we again look at the six rural
territories in Haut-Katanga combined with national-level data. All rural territories under study
While these data date back to 2014, media still regularly report that the problem persists. Radio Okapi
(2017), for example, reported in December 2017 that civil servants in the territory of Shabunda had requested
the distribution of salaries in their territory instead of having to travel to the distant town of Bukavu.
have their own history of bancarisation, i.e. their own dynamics of reassembling. Here, we
focus on the most important commonalities: the opting-in of a Catholic NGO and the invention
of a new institution. All of this helped to maintain the discourse on the success of bancarisation,
yet also helped to bend the rules of the game in actual practice.
Returning to pre-existing practices: Caritas
Subject: Request to assign teachers to payment by Caritas [...]
This is why, Mister President in charge of monitoring payments, […] we beg you with tears in
the eyes for your long-awaited assistance that would not only relieve us, but that would allow
us to properly follow the national [educational] program in our classrooms.”
(Letter written by an educational coordinator of Sakania to the Commission de la Paie in Kin-
After it became increasingly visible that banks and sub-contractors did not deliver a
good service in rural areas, the national government turned to a well-known organisation: the
Catholic NGO Caritas. In August 2013, 4 months after the celebrated start of bancarisation in
the interior provinces, Caritas was officially requested by the government to step in and pay
teachers in so-called régions à accès difficile (regions with difficult access) (Protocol d’accord
from August 11th, 2011). The inability of banks to assure proper payments created an open
moment (Lund, 1998) and Caritas stepped in. This is the moment when the reform’s overall
objective to realise a complete bancarisation was abandoned, or at least temporarily deferred.
Territorial division between banks and Caritas
Map 2a: July 2014 Map 2b: December 2015 Map 2c: May 2018
Source: Own graphic based on SECOPE’s monthly overviews
Table 1. Allocation of territories between banks and Caritas, 2014-2018.
July 2014
December 2015
May 2018
Type of territory
Total surface
Total surface
Total surface
Source: own calculations, based on data from DRC/MinFinance/Ordonnateur Délégué et de L’Ordonnancement (2014)
Maps 2a to 2c and Table 1 reconstitute how the territorial composition of providers
evolved between July 2014 and May 2018.
In fact, the composition has changed drastically
since the launch of bancarisation in 2011. While, in mid-2013, Caritas took over one third of
all teachers, by the end of 2015 it assured payment for almost half of them. Almost the whole
interior was taken over by Caritas, except some parts which are mainly situated in the West
(Kongo-Central, Kwango, Kwilu), South-Center (around Kasai Orientale), and South-East
(Haut-Lomami, Tanganyika).
Caritas has paid teachers in four of the six rural territories in
Haut-Katanga since the reform has been initiated. It is important to note that Caritas’ take-over
has not been a neat and tidy process. Instead, it has been tinkered with and negotiated. For
instance, as mentioned above, teachers in Kasenga went from Airtel (May-July) to Groupe
Service (August and September 2013) to Caritas (October 2013 September 2014) to Groupe
Service (October 2014 November 2014) and finally back to Caritas in December 2014. The
third map, representing the situation in May 2018, suggests that the situation has more or less
stabilised since December 2015, however. This has also been confirmed by a senior manager
of Caritas in May 2018, who claims that about 130,000 teachers, or one third of all teachers on
the state’s payroll, are currently paid by his organisation.
To explain Caritas’ take-over, we can first of all refer to its own symbolic and infra-
structural resources. Caritas had already paid Catholic teachers prior to the bancarisation re-
form. In 2011, a bill was passed, modifying an existing one, to allow Caritas to act as payment
operator for all Catholic schools.
In 2015, Caritas managed a salary portfolio amounting to
182% of the one it managed in 2012 (Caritas Congo, 2012, 2016): it was already a key player
in distributing teacher salaries before the bancarisation, but before its return was replaced
Mobile phone companies are not shown on the map, as details about their involvement were not made pub-
lic. The banks that subcontracted them are represented instead.
A more detailed analysis of the spatial distribution of banks and Caritas surpasses the reach of this paper but
is envisaged in the future.
Decree n°CABMIN/FP/BUDGET/FIN/033/2011 modifying n°CABMIN/FP/BUDGET/FIN/026/2004
due to the government’s plan to bancarise all teachers. Caritas was also able to draw on sym-
bolic capital for its involvement: by referring to the convention signed by the Catholic Church
in 1977, Caritas drew on the recognition of the Catholic Church as a school administrator.
Caritas did not negotiate as an outsider, but as a member of the Catholic Church (Bashimutu,
2012, p. 43). Thus, it gave new meaning to its role in the pastoral apostolate, the social service
in the name of the Church for the good of the people (Interview with senior Caritas adminis-
trators, 18.12.2015). It could thus claim that it had a no profit-orientation and that it acted as
part of a wider legitimising framework.
This brings us to Caritas’ infrastructural power its capacity to implement political
decisions throughout the realm (Mann, 1984, p. 189). Caritas’ employee responsible for the
salary payments made the spatial dimension of this power even more explicit: we cover every
square meter of the territory of the DRC (Interview, 19.09.2013). Not only does every diocese
have a Caritas office, but every church, priest or car affiliated to the Catholic Church can po-
tentially be mobilised by Caritas. What has been a major challenge for banks and phone com-
panies is the biggest advantage for Caritas: the infrastructure of the territories and the respective
presence of banking vs. Catholic institutions. In contrast to banks and phone companies, the
national director of Caritas can claim that his organisation travels to the schools or at least as
far as the nearest Catholic parish.
To be sure, our field research shows that this claim should be nuanced. Caritas biggest
advantage, and the banks’ and phone companies’ biggest disadvantage, is in fact that Caritas is
not required to pay teachers individually. It has the freedom to pay according to the schools’
lists instead of respecting the banks’ lists. This mechanism allows teachers and principals to be
more flexible when it comes to reallocating salaries among themselves, for example that a new
teacher receives the salary instead of a deceased one. Sometimes network managers or priests
are mobilised too. They meet Caritas staff at certain road junctures, pick up the money for
several schools and pay teachers personally or hand cash to principals. At the time of the study,
some zones were still considered insecure by Caritas, and teachers were required to come to
the locations chosen by Caritas. Similar to BIC/FBN bank, teachers would have to travel over
70 km. Compensations for travel costs were inconsistent and seemed to decrease over time. In
this sense, the Caritas system replicates the pre-bancarisation system, as well as the problems
of salary deductions that the bancarisation reform was meant to solve. Still, the territorial reach
of Caritas is unequalled in the DRC, neither by banks, and still less by the DRC state itself.
Caritas has another way to deal with the problem of insecurity. A letter issued by the
diocesan Caritas office of Kilwa-Kasenga suggests an appropriate answer. The letter is from
March 2016, issued by Caritas’ pay commission and written for the territories of Pweto and
Kasenga. All principals who act as mediators between Caritas and several schools in their net-
works were addressed (chefs d’antenne scolaires (tous réseaux confondus)). The pay commis-
sion argues that the Congolese government does not offer any insurance on the funds that Cari-
tas manages and delivers. Pointing to mounting insecurity and reported robberies in the DRC,
Caritas argues that it would not be able to cover any occurring losses. Therefore, Caritas sug-
gests a collective liability, asking every teacher to sign the following clause:
We, teachers of […] accept that Caritas’ payment commission continues to deliver
our salaries at our school. In case of losing salaries, due to robbery by armed
bandits, we will accept the consequences and we will not seek legal means against
the diocese of Kilwa-Kasenga.
Unless all teachers sign, Caritas states (or threatens) that it would consider it necessary
to return payment to the government. The question for us is not whether this is a fair arrange-
ment. What is more interesting for the purpose of this article is how such a local arrangement
adds paradoxically both to the persistence of the reform, and to Caritas’ increased role therein.
Indeed, despite possible deductions from their salaries, and despite the absence of as-
surance in the case of theft or robbery, the payment system organised by Caritas seems more
beneficial to teachers as it liberates most of them from long distance journeys. However, these
advantages for teachers do not cohere with the government’s proclaimed objective of a bancari-
sation rate of 100 percent. The majority of all teachers in Haut-Katanga were paid by Caritas
in 2016, they were not bancarised.
Should we therefore conclude that the reform failed? Quite the contrary. Caritas’ re-
involvement took place under the umbrella of bancarisation. This already sustains one of our
initial arguments: a reform is not imposed from the top and resisted at the bottom. Especially
in the polycentric governance system of the DRC, non-state actors can complement the state’s,
or other non-state actors’, activities. More importantly, the Catholic Bishops only considered
Caritas as a temporary solution, while they were envisaging a new Catholic provider of finan-
cial services.
Inventing a new institution
Encouraged by the government, the National Congolese Episcopal Conference founded
the microfinance institution (MFI) Institution Financière pour les Œuvres du Développement,
Société Anonyme (IFOD S.A.; Financial Institution for Development Projects). This is a new
legal entity that draws on the symbolic and infrastructural resources of the Catholic Church.
For the government, this is an almost literal deus ex machina: Despite lacking banking infra-
structure, hundreds of thousands of teachers would become bancarised and the bancarisation
ratio would in effect reach one hundred percent. In order to comply with the legal requirements
of an MFI and with the government’s objective of knowing the actual teaching workforce,
IFOD needs to identify each individual teacher.
According to an interview with IFOD’s technical manager in May 2018, the MFI uses
fingerprints to identify clients and its teams are equipped with tablets to manage payments
(Interview, 16.03.18). According to this manager, IFOD successfully identified 80 percent of
its clients. Another senior manager claimed a rate of 95 percent (Interview, 15.05.18). For any
payment, each teacher needs to present him-/herself individually. Apparently, collective pay-
ments are no longer possible and procurement no longer accepted. IFOD claims that the gov-
ernment pays an insufficient sum (3% of the payroll managed by IFOD) to allow the MFI to
reach all schools. Therefore, payments continue to follow the geographic logic of the Catholic
Church: each of the approximately 1,500 parishes define areas that group several schools (axes
de paie) which form the basis of IFOD’s portfolio. While IFOD’s teams also sometimes stop
to disburse salaries along the way, most teachers have to travel to the parishes. We were how-
ever unable to confirm IFOD’s actual reach through fieldwork.
Although IFOD is officially a private company, a senior manager unknowingly re-
peated the words uttered by a Caritas employee in 2015: IFOD is still the Church. Reportedly,
Caritas staff involved in the payment of salaries received further training and now work for
IFOD. As of June 2018, IFOD only had a branch in Kinshasa but was planning to extend its
network to other cities.
In this article, we analysed the governance, spatial and infrastructural challenges in-
volved in a large-scale administrative reform (bancarisation) that targeted the entire Congolese
civil service. The bancarisation reform sought to extend the state’s territorial reach by paying
all 400,000 teachers individually via bank accounts. This scheme was intended to establish a
reliable payroll and to shorten delays in the payment of teachers’ salaries. However, the reform
designers were unable to draw on an autonomous knowledge-base and at the same time ex-
cluded knowledgeable educational stakeholders. Moreover, the reform was built on an ideal-
ised and modern image of reality: the presence of banks in the country and of banks willing to
quickly expand their services to under-served areas neither of which was the case in reality.
Therefore, we considered this reform in light of the state’s limited infrastructural power and
other actors’ capacity to complement it.
We showed that the public-private partnership with the banking sector was rather suc-
cessful in big urban areas, where the imagined infrastructural endowments more or less
matched actual endowments. In contrast, the reform in small cities and rural areas was fre-
quently interrupted and incomplete. Given the emphasis in the literature on reform failure, the
vastness of the Congolese territory and the relative absence of material infrastructure, one
would have expected the bancarisation reform to meet a quick end which it did not. The
answer to this puzzling observation is that on one hand, the official discourse celebrated
bancarisation as a major political success, while on the other hand actors initially side-lined by
the reform succeeded in reassembling it.
When banks struggled to deliver salaries to rural areas, teachers had no choice but to
travel long distances to receive their salaries. For these teachers, bancarisation meant a sub-
stantially increased investment in time and money to access their salary, while somehow trying
to make up for the resulting lack of time and energy in their classrooms. This devastating situ-
ation led to the inclusion of the Catholic Church, which was able to capitalise on its existing
infrastructure. Through its NGO Caritas, it considerably expanded its portfolio of teacher pay-
ment activities in rural areas, under the umbrella of bancarisation. Furthermore, the Catholic
Church bought into the reform’s image through the invention of the microfinance institution
IFOD. In other words, in the final instance, rather than improving the state’s ability to reach
out to all teachers and improve on their working conditions, the reform’s effect was to decrease
leakage and delays in the payment of teachers in the big cities and to increase transaction costs
for teachers everywhere else. In this way, the working conditions of teachers worsened pre-
cisely in those areas where the need for additional investment in schooling is highest.
At a more general level, the unfolding of the reform points not only to enormous spatial
disparities in the territorial reach of the state but also in the political processes at work in shap-
ing infrastructural power. As noted by Boone, the pace and localisation of this process is de-
termined by the social topography of sub-national power structures (Boone, 2012, p. 627). The
case of the bancarisation reform further shows to what extent the outcome of this process is
shaped by non-state interests and manoeuvres rather than by the state’s own geopolitical strat-
egy. Especially in a negotiated system of governance, a reform is not implemented in a top-
down manner and resisted at the bottom, but might survive in an unstable process of com-
plaints, modifications and power struggles, as a polycentric geographical assemblage of dis-
tributed authority in which power is continually negotiated and renegotiated (Allen and
Cochrane, 2010, p. 1076). As a result, in the absence of appropriate infrastructural endow-
ments, a reform with the goal of replacing one mode of governance (faith-based channels for
salary disbursements) with a ‘modern’ one can instead cause a spatially differentiated govern-
ance pattern banks in urban areas, faith-based actors in rural areas and thereby render a
transparent governance process more difficult.
Within this understanding, policy success is the absence of institutionalised contesta-
tion or public acknowledgment of failure which is not the same as the realisation of the state’s
intended outcomes. We do not suggest that government actors were actively constructing pol-
icy success. However, they were operating in a field of political practices that is itself also
(spatially) uneven. With Michael Mann, we could conceive of this unevenness as the strength
of despotic power. But with Boone and Li, we might also see this political field, where prob-
lems are diagnosed and solutions are provided, as itself patterned by evolving spatially uneven
Acknowledgments: We would like to thank Stylianos Moshonas for helpful comments and
support in the process of cleaning up the quantitative data, Justin Mann for support in clean-
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for support in drawing maps and Kristof Titeca and participants and the ECAS 2017 confer-
ence in Basel for helpful comments, as well as anonymous reviewers of a former version of
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... The fact that key policies, such as Gratuité or bancarisation, have been designed and implemented without much consultation of teachers or educational administrators also underlines this dynamic (Brandt and De Herdt 2020). Second, teachers' unions are normally key actors in strengthening education systems. ...
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We use a mixed methods approach to highlight that the political marginalisation of ethno-territorial groups is key in understanding marginalisation from education in contexts of protracted conflict. First, because marginalisation from education is both a result, and driver, of the historical marginalisation of ethno-territorial and identity groups. Second, because some groups might be more severely affected by violent conflict. Our results show that the Twa minority of Tanganyika has not only been more exposed to violence during the Twa-Bantu conflict, but also that exposure to violence has more severe effects on the Twa in terms of educational outcomes. We analyse key mechanisms, in particular spatial segregation, and the social segregation of schools along ethnic/identity lines. We also analyse the interaction between ethno-cultural marginalisation and economic, social, and gender-related marginalisation.
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Research on teacher well-being that works from a localized socioeconomic perspective tends to neglect the nestedness of teacher well-being within wider systems. Randomized Controlled Trials (RCTs) are illustrative of such decontextualised ontological and epistemological foundations. In this article, we demonstrate the benefits of a system dynamics Cultural Political Economy informed analysis for research on teacher well-being in protracted crises. Zooming into teacher contract and salary policies in the Democratic Republic of Congo, we compare our largely qualitative research with two RCTs. Our article yields two insights for future systemic analyses of teacher well-being in protracted crises. First, such research necessitates a methodological design which captures the multiscalar systems in which teacher well-being is embedded. Second, such research requires an exploration of cultural, political and economic dynamics that affect teachers and establish boundaries for teacher well-being.
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Ce rapport présente les statistiques descriptives et l’analyse préliminaire réalisées suite à la première phase de collecte de données quantitatives et qualitatives dans le cadre du projet de recherches BRiCE en République démocratique du Congo (RDC) et au Niger. La recherche a été menées par l’Institute of Development Studies en partenariat avec Save the Children, avec l’Institut supérieur pédagogique du Bukavu en RDC et avec l’équipe de Save the Children SERA au Niger. L’objectif de cette étude est de mieux comprendre l’éducation dans les contextes fragiles et de zones de conflit, en se concentrant sur quatre questions de recherches centrales : QR1) enquêter afin de déterminer si et comment l’exposition et la confrontation à la violence influencent la qualité et le bien-être dans l’enseignement dans les contextes fragiles et les zones de conflit ; QR2) examiner l’impact des composantes Développement Professionnel des Enseignants (TPD)et Améliorer ensemble les environnements d’apprentissage (Improving Learning Environments Together - ILET) du programme BRiCE sur la qualité et le bien-être des enseignants dans les contextes fragiles ; QR3) examiner comment la qualité et le bien-être dans l’enseignement influencent les acquis cognitifs et non-cognitifs des enfants vivants dans les pays fragiles ou affectés par les conflits ; QR4) étudier comment les savoir-faire acquis par les enseignants dans les contextes des zones de conflit peuvent être utilisées efficacement dans les mesures politiques et la programmation.
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This Report presents the descriptive statistics and preliminary analysis carried out following the first phase of quantitative and qualitative data collection of the Building Resilience in Conflict through Education (BRiCE) research project in the DRCongo and in Niger. Long overlooked, the role of teachers has been the object of renewed attention in the education literature, but there is still limited analysis of the constraints they face and the role they play in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. The objective of the study is to investigate whether, and how, exposure to and experience of violence influence teaching quality and well-being, and children's learning outcomes.
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Expectations that decentralisation in DRC would result in improved provincial governance were predicated upon an understanding of provincial elites as autonomous from Kinshasa. In reality, they are deeply embedded in informal patronage networks that reach out across the country, emanating from the presidency outwards. These networks are highly centralised, weaving a web that largely neutralises the political, financial and administrative autonomy of provinces. Features of this web include: (1) the informal control of political and administrative appointments, that should be provincially allocated, by elites in and around the presidency; (2) financial poaching of provincial actors; (3) predatory extractive pressures by central elites; (4) the use of political ‘godfathers’ to maintain indirect oversight of provincial elites; (5) the use of provincial legislative authorities as tools for sanctioning unreliable governors. Under these conditions, effective decentralisation remains elusive. For possibly better odds of success, donors could consider interventions that seek to build on the existing patronage structure rather than seeking to eliminate or ignoring it. Our findings are based on fieldwork carried out over 2017–2018 in three of the four provinces of former Katanga: Haut-Katanga, Haut-Lomami and Lualaba. We interviewed about 80 respondents, including provincial political actors, civil servants, civil society activists, ethnic representatives and academics. We also gathered data on budgets, transfers and employment from provincial executives and assemblies.
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State administrations rely on knowledge about its employees in order to ensure transparent payroll management. This thesis investigates the political economy and social dynamics around such knowledge by focusing on public school teachers in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). After a calamitous social and economic decade in the 1990s and early 2000s, international donors framed non-transparent public payrolls as fiduciary risk and pursued teacher identification, for example through a census. However, as of 2016, a significant number of teachers remained unregistered by the state administration. Empirically based on 14 months of ethnographic research and discourse analyses, and theoretically building on Tania Murray Li and the notion of permanent provocation, the thesis traces the pursuit of teacher identification in the DRC in government and donor documents since the 1970s. The thesis then explores how the following dynamics pose a limit to teacher identification: (1) long-standing administrative practices, (2) decentralisation and democratisation, (3) the challenge to penetrate the Congolese territory, (4) teacher transfers, and (5) armed conflict. My findings suggest that teacher illegibility – the lack of state knowledge on teachers – is not only a sign of a deficient state but can be a proper state effect. Most crucially, the thesis argues that the constant pursuit of teacher identification has strengthened state authority despite poor performance in public service delivery. Thereby, it contributes to a better understanding of the intricacies of teacher governance, and of the multiple relations between education systems, state authority and the international development industry.
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This empirical article explores how the interaction between two key aspects of statebuilding (democratisation and decentralisation) and existing forms of governance in the Democratic Republic of Congo led to a multiplication in numbers of political and administrative brokers. Furthermore, it investigates how these brokers construct their roles well beyond official mandates. Responding to local demands, they circumvent formal procedures in order to obtain decrees accrediting public primary and secondary schools. As a result, the number of public schools has almost tripled since the early 2000s. Building on qualitative and quantitative empirical data, the article thus reveals that democratisation and decentralisation can reproduce clientelist structures. However, it also uncovers changing socio-spatial dynamics: certain historically neglected and conflict-affected districts have particularly benefited from brokers’ involvement. Despite these positive aspects, the article further illustrates how these outcomes counteract other central administrative and political objectives.
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Literaturverz. S. [337] - 365
Specifies the origins, mechanisms and results of the autonomous power the state possesses in relation to the major power grouping of 'civil society'. The state is first defined, and two aspects of that definition, centrality and territoriality, are discussed in relation to 'despotic' and 'infrastructural' state power. Argues that the state is essentially an arena, a place, and that this is precisely the origin and mechanism of its autonomous powers. -after Author
This book is about mismanagement, hypocrisy, powerlessness and sabotage. Congo Masquerade reveals the vacuity of reform logic and discourse. It is a study of aid inefficiency in one of the 21st century’s major attempts at reconstructing a failed state in Africa. These attempts commenced at a time when state crisis was overwhelming: physical infrastructure was dilapidated, the macroeconomic situation was unmanageable and the population was debilitated by dictatorship, two regional wars and an exhausting political transition. These conditions have not made state reconstruction easy. They help explain why initiatives designed and implemented by Congo’s international partners to reconstruct this huge and diverse country have, so far, been largely unsuccessful. International partners and Congolese authorities share responsibility in failing to bring about genuine political and institutional reform. The former have underestimated the complexities of political culture in Africa’s third largest territory; the latter, through ruse and strategy, deliberately hamper reform to stay in power. Throughout much of the global south, it is increasingly obvious that development aid does not always develop. It does not always aid. Congo is fabulously rich but its people are abysmally poor. Congo is a land of broken promises. This book is designed to unmask the ineffectiveness of reform and development initiatives. The analysis reveals change without improvement. It presents a critical examination of why aid is not helping while offering a theoretical framework that inspires similar critiques in other state rebuilding contexts. Congo Masquerade can help engaged development experts, NGO activists and academics improve the analytical tools needed to understand the pitfalls of reform initiatives. As Congo is one of Africa’s major development ‘markets’, the current situation needs to be reassessed with the kind of critical analysis that this book provides. The problems inherent to reform failure in Congo will not go away by themselves. This book makes explicit what many actors believe without having the courage or liberty to express openly. Congo Masquerade is not an exercise in Congo bashing or Congo Schadenfreude. It is a critical and engaged assessment that seeks to fill an information gap by sounding an alarm. The objective is to shape dialogue about state-building challenges in this unsettling geography of imbalance. The spirit of the book is one of modesty and empathy because it raises fundamental questions about development and change. As the parable of the crocodile and the scorpion reveals, we are merely groping for understanding with respect to the subtle intricacies of the reform process.
The DR Congo embarked upon decentralization reforms in 2006 to improve governance and accountability, undermine predation, corruption, and personal rule, bring government closer to the people, and promote local development. As of 2014, despite some regional variations, Congolese decentralization had instead increased the degree to which the state extracts the resources and incomes of its citizens. It had also fostered provincial centralization at the expense of local governments, produced largely unaccountable provinces governing with little transparency, and unleashed self-serving provincial elites. After providing original empirical evidence for these claims, this article suggests that decentralization was thwarted by the failure of formal reforms to affect informal ruling institutions and by an erroneous diagnosis of Congo’s governance failures that singled out the abuse of elites without identifying the generalized nature of the instrumentalization of sovereignty by officeholders at all levels of the state. The article concludes by using Congo’s experience to illustrate important flaws in decentralization reforms in Africa.