Salvation through Education: Wokovu in Lubumbashi (Congo)

The Salvatorians have 65 years of history in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Our confreres, engaged in several places often separated by enormous distances, are close to the poor and vulnerable in each community with whom they live and work.

Over the years, they also managed to build good and reliable relationships with local partners and authorities and develop an ear for the most urgent – and often very basic – necessities at grassroots’ level.

By constructing and managing a school complex in urban Bel-Air, the Salvatorians responded to a need deeply felt and expressed by the local population and in line with the five pillar-strategy of the government, one of which is health and education.

Bel-Air is a densely populated district of Lubumbashi, the second-largest city of the D.R. Congo. Out of Bel-Air’s more than 60,000 inhabitants nearly one-third are children between five and 14 years. Nevertheless, there are only five primary schools in the district which all lack capacity and quality. Most parents do not have enough money to send their children by public transportation to school in a neighboring district, and walking is too far and too dangerous. Consequently, many children do not receive any primary – let alone secondary – education at all.

Supported by SOFIA, which provided useful input regarding project development, fundraising and project execution, the Salvatorians first put in place a kindergarten, which was ready in 2012. Subsequently they set about building a new primary school in the same complex which they had named Wokovu – the Kiswahili word for Salvation. Already in 2013 the primary school was in the condition to welcome the first 382 children. Given the big need and influx from everywhere in Bel-Air, in 2013-2014 eight additional classrooms were built. During the school year 2014-2015 the number of pupils reached 715 (370 boys and 345 girls, which is an important figure, considering that girls are often left behind wherever parents have to decide which of their children to send to school). In September 2015, grade VI was introduced, and today 925 children are enrolled. Also the kindergarten’s “clients” are constantly on the rise (from 468 enrolled in 2014-2015 to currently 540).

Beyond the figures, even though up to now the primary school has been operative for no more than three batches, it already has achieved a noticeable impact:

- In Lubumbashi, 800 additional children get primary education, and as of 2016-2017, yearly 100 children will be able to move on to a secondary school.

- Equal opportunities for boys and girls: 45% of the children finishing primary education at Wokovu will be girls. 

- The Wokovu school is able to ensure quality education thanks to its adequate infrastructure, well-selected teaching staff and good governance under Salvatorian supervision.

- Parents are pleased that their children are able to continue to learn and develop skills and values at Wokovu after kindergarten, and that they no longer have to send their children to malfunctioning or distant primary schools. Among other things, this gives them peace of mind and extra time to dedicate to the education of their children and to work.

- In general, the new primary school contributes to the socio-economic and human development of the area. The school enhances local social cohesion thanks to the daily exchange among adults and children and thanks to the fact that more children will graduate from good primary education where strong attention is being paid to the development and strengthening civic and moral values.

- Encouragement of local solidarity and grassroots’ initiatives benefitting the poorest among the poor, such as parents collecting used clothes for the neediest children of Lubumbashi.


Bl. Francis Jordan


Founder's Thoughts

As long as there is one person on earth who does not know God and does not love God above all things, you dare not allow yourself a moment’s rest.

Great Salvatorians




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