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EDUCATION IN THE CONGO

The Mail

NO WRITER ATTRIBUTED

To the Editors of the CRIMSON:

Several readers have drawn our attention to your editorial, "Lumumba's Death" in the Harvard CRIMSON of February 15, 1961. It is generally felt that its interpretation of recent history in the Congo does grave injustice, not only to Belgium and its Government, but also to the United States and its new Administration.

One particular statement--"Belgian rule virtually forbade education in the Congo"--is a complete distortion of Belgium's educational accomplishments in the Congo.

The facts are as follows:

The Congolese literacy rate of 50 to 55 per cent is the highest in Central Africa and bears favorable comparison to any nation on that continent.

United Nations statistics reveal that 11 per cent of the entire Congolese population was receiving classroom education in 1958, the latest year for which accurate statistics are available. The figure compares with ten per cent for Egypt, 5.2 per cent for Nigeria and 4.6 per cent for Tanganyika. Only Ghana, with 12 per cent, sent a higher proportion of its people to school.

Belgium spent $38 million for education in the fiscal year 1958-59, an amount greater than that spent in "any other tropical African territory."

The repeated statement that there were only a dozen Congolese university graduates at the time the Congo received its independence are entirely misleading. In addition to 30 university graduates, people with the equivalent of an American M.A. or Ph.D. degree, there were more than 1,000 enrolled Congolese college students in Belgium and the Congo. Africa's only two full-fledged universities and Africa's sole nuclear reactor are in the Congo. Add to that more than 17,000 men and women studying to be teachers, some 20,000 students in technical schools, and almost 18,000 in high school and junior college. The total figures for those in primary school was more than 1,413,000.

These statistics lay to rest some of the charges that have been so glibly made. In 52 years, Belgium achieved more educationally in the Congo--for the Congolese--than was accomplished in 90 years in most other African nations. Jan-Albert Goris   Commissioner of Information,   Minister Plenipotentiary

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