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Why "Universities" Are Flourishing In Butembo

A makeshift -- but genuine -- school in Kpandroma, DRC
A makeshift -- but genuine -- school in Kpandroma, DRC
Kennedy Wema

BUTEMBO — On the eve of the 2013-2014 academic year, the city of Butembo saw 22 new universities opening here, more than doubling the number of higher education institutions in a city of only 600,000 people.

But they’re only universities by (pompous) name: “Superior Institute of Trade and Business,” “Doctoral School of Petrochemistry,” “Faculty of Aviation Mechanics,” etc.

Some launched courses in “Water and Forests” right in the middle of the town, while others used the logos of former genuine universities, and others still registered students despite the complete absence of lecture halls.

The city’s authorities decided enough was enough. “This is a very bad joke, and it needs to stop,” Mayor Sikuli'Uvasaka Theodore said in a recent speech. “They can’t go about cheating our youth the way they do. I won't accept it.”

The mayor meant what he said, subsequently signing a decree ordering the closure of the 22 such bogus institutions, which had used advertisements on local radio stations to promote themselves.

“We are killing our youth,” says a worried Mathékis Kisughu, a teacher and poet who denounces the “frantic quest for money” that motivates the people behind such organizations.

“For intelligent people to set up such institutions instead of helping the country is completely reckless,” adds Kahindo Kambalume, the city’s public works chief. “The state has to crack down on these counterfeiters.”

[rebelmouse-image 27087560 alt="""" original_size="640x360" expand=1]

Near the University of Lubumbashi, DRC — Photo: Mike Rosenberg

The elite clearly regard these new “universities” as imposters. But the schools themselves instead point the finger at the mayor, whom they accuse of being manipulated. “We know where all this comes from,” one says. “The old universities are scared because we’re taking away their students.”

Intellectual fraud

Some have refused to shut their doors, regarding the mayor’s decision as unfair and saying it denies students freedom of choice.

The Ministry of Higher Education says that universities have three missions: teaching, research and service to society. But the promoters of these new infrastructures have other goals, says Karongo Pantaléon, administrative secretary for Superior Business Institute. “They’re unscrupulous people.”

What’s especially tragic is that these organizations accepted applications from students who had failed elsewhere. “This whole thing angers everybody,” says Jonathan Ndaghala, sociologist and head of research at the official university of Ruwenzori. “What will happen to these poor students who were duped? Thankfully, the authorities’ measure came just in time.”

Mumber wa Siviholya, who teaches law at a private university, says higher education reform is in order. “Otherwise, these people will succeed and establish real intellectual fraud.”

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The West Has An Answer To China's New Silk Road — With A Lift From The Gulf

The U.S. and Europe are seeking to rival China by launching a huge joint project. Saudi Arabia and the Gulf States will also play a key role – because the battle for world domination is not being fought on China’s doorstep, but in the Middle East.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Indian Prime Minister Narendra and U.S. President Joe Biden shaking hands during PGII & India-Middle East-Europe Economics Corridor event at the G20 Summit on Sept. 9 in New Delhi

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, Indian Prime Minister Narendra and U.S. President Joe Biden during PGII & India-Middle East-Europe Economics Corridor event at the G20 Summit on Sept. 9 in New Delhi

Daniel-Dylan Böhmer


BERLIN — When world leaders are so keen to emphasize the importance of a project, we may well be skeptical. “This is a big deal, a really big deal,” declared U.S. President Joe Biden earlier this month.

The "big deal" he's talking about is a new trade and infrastructure corridor planned to be built between India, the Middle East and Europe.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi described the project as a “beacon of cooperation, innovation and shared progress,” while President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen called it a “green and digital bridge across continents and civilizations."

The corridor will consist of improved railway networks, shipping ports and submarine cables. It is not only India, the U.S. and Europe that are investing in it – they are also working together on the project with Saudi Arabia, Israel and the United Arab Emirates.

Saudi Arabia is planning to provide $20 billion in funding for the corridor, but aside from that, the sums involved are as yet unclear. The details will be hashed out over the next two months. But if the West and its allies truly want to compete with China's so-called New Silk Road, they will need a lot of money.

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