An air of intense expectancy and excitement charged the normally quiet late afternoon stillness and heat at Beni’s airport. The students of Université Chrétienne Bilingue du Congo (UCBC), together with faculty and leaders, had flocked to the airport awaiting a flight from Kinshasa with the university’s Rector, Dr. Honoré Bunduki Kwany. He stepped off the plane and was surrounded. Pressed on every side by jubilant young people dancing and singing in welcome. High-fives. fist bumps. Hugs. Cheers. Laughter. For what? Diplomas.
There is a story here.
In July 2010, UCBC was barely 3 years from its founding. A fledgling university holding classes in one unfinished academic building, in a remote provincial city, and in the impoverished east of the country It was a community of visionary founders, a young and committed faculty, and fewer than 200 students with an audacious vision to transform lives and uplift communities in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It was also a community introducing a new curriculum that was weaving together intellectual rigor, character formation, a service ethic, and bilingualism.
UCBC had submitted an application for its official charter and certification to DRC’s national regulatory and accrediting body, the Ministry of Higher and University Education. The application caught the attention of the Ministry, for Congo’s government too had a vision — for an entirely new curriculum it would mandate be implemented in all universities in the country. It was to be a revolutionary new curriculum and pedagogical model known as the LMD (License, Masters, Doctorate) and envisioned to replace the inherited colonial model with one that would equip young people for the challenges and opportunities of the 21st century. Approving UCBC’s application, the Minister then formally asked UCBC to develop and implement LMD. He sent his Executive Assistant to work with UCBC’s faculty and administration to co-develop LMD and left it to UCBC to pilot. This brought both a heightened level of hope and expectation, as well as some apprehensiveness.
By 2011 and at the government’s request, UCBC had transitioned its entire curriculum to the proposed LMD system. UCBC stood virtually alone in the country offering degrees based on LMD. Due to politics and instability, the LMD system was never finalized by the government nor ratified by the National Assembly. In Congo, every single university diploma is vetted and approved and at the Ministerial level and every diploma is signed by the Minister. No UCBC diplomas have been approved and signed, and therefore, no UCBC graduate has received his/her formal diploma. In spite of this, students and parents have continued to seek out UCBC as a university of distinction and distinctiveness.
Finally, in 2021, LMD gained momentum and was enthusiastically approved by the new Ministry of Higher Education. UCBC was invited to lead a convention on its implementation and this past February, UCBC’s Rector, Dr. Honoré Bunduki Kwany, was summoned to Kinshasa to present all UCBC’s graduates’ credentials and diplomas since 2014 for approval and signature.
Just a week ago, he returned to Beni from Kinshasa, signed diplomas in hand. This week, in a thanksgiving celebration, these diplomas were distributed to UCBC’s graduates. These are the first LMD diplomas to be issued in Congo!
And so, as Dr. Honoré Bunduki Kwany returned home there was dancing, singing, and smiles ear to ear. Not simply because of diplomas, but because it is one of the greatest affirmations. It is hard work and innovation recognized. It is transformation.
For students, staff, and alumni of UCBC, it is a symbol of hope that confidently proclaims change is possible in one of the most unlikely places and most troubled corners of the world.
Innocent Bora Uzima says
This history is well summarized by Prof. Paul Robinson. To God be the glory! HE is accomplishing step by step the vision of change in DRC through CI-UCBC by confirming it as the pioneer of LMD in the country.
Judd Kile says
Vincent Stubbs says
The audacious vision and perseverance of the leaders of UCBC over the long years of waiting, despite the inaction of the government, is wonderful to behold. There is so much discouraging news coming out of DRC today, so that coward souls would have given up long ago. UCBC is a harbinger of what God will do for the Congo.Halleleuia!
David Hubbard says
AWESOME!!! Great to hear.