Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa
Conseil pour le développement de la recherche en sciences sociales en Afrique
Conselho para o Desenvolvimento da Pesquisa em Ciências Sociais em África
مجلس تنمية البحوث الإجتماعية في أفريقيا

Safeguarding Academic Freedom in the University of Kinshasa!

15th May 2008

Number of visits: 2417

The African social science research community has been paying close attention to the
evolution of the situation at the National University of Kinshasa. It is now four months since
academic activities have been paralyzed as a result of a lecturer’s strike for decent wages. For
a couple of days now, students have become prey to the police because they decided to
conduct a march to pressure the government to respond positively to the lecturers’ demands.
According to reports that we have received, this situation is worsening by the day, making it
impossible to carry on with normal pedagogic activities in this institution of higher learning
and research. Worse still, the declining teaching conditions imperil the knowledge production
process which is indispensable for development. Meanwhile, the blind intervention by the
police endangers the lecturers and students who form the cornerstone of the future of the DRC
and of the entire continent.

The Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa is an organization
which promotes academic freedom in African universities. It fights so that African scholars
and researchers can enjoy best possible working conditions which allow them to function
without any external constraints. As it was recalled at the Kinshasa Conference on Academic
Freedom in the DRC, jointly organized by CODESRA and the University of Kinshasa in
2004, these exigencies not only include decent conditions for work on the campus, but also
the free expression of their thoughts and freedom to undertake research on issues of their
choice. Given that the DRC scholarly and research community is one of the most active
within CODESRIA, the Council cannot remain indifferent to the degradation of the working
conditions to which our Congolese colleagues are subjected. Such silence would run contrary
to the principles of academic freedom and solidarity for which our organization has been
fighting since its creation in 1973. No university can develop without the guarantee of
academic freedom therein, just as much as no democracy can survive devoid of scrupulous
respect for freedom of expression. These freedoms constitute the basis upon which scholars
and researchers can assume their social responsibility.

CODESRIA and the entire community of African social science researchers exhort the
relevant authorities in the DRC to take urgent measures so that academic freedoms may be
respected and guaranteed for our colleagues at the University of Kinshasa, and notably for the
demands of our Congolese colleagues for better working and living conditions, as well as a
raise in their salaries, be met. The Council assures our colleagues of its support in their fight
for a properly functioning university, deeply involved in the development of the DRC and of
the African continent. The Council also takes this opportunity to call the attention of the
authorities to the fact that they would be held accountable for all unfortunate incidents which
may result from this crisis.

May 15 2008