Skip to main content Accessibility help
Hostname: page-component-56f9d74cfd-rbfsf Total loading time: 0.336 Render date: 2022-06-27T09:21:50.156Z Has data issue: true Feature Flags: { "shouldUseShareProductTool": true, "shouldUseHypothesis": true, "isUnsiloEnabled": true, "useRatesEcommerce": false, "useNewApi": true }

Reshaping the reach of the state: the politics of teacher payment reform in the DR Congo

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  20 February 2020

Cyril Owen Brandt*
Institute of Development Policy (University of Antwerp), Lange Sint-Annastraat 7, 2000Antwerp, Belgium
Tom De Herdt*
Institute of Development Policy (University of Antwerp), Lange Sint-Annastraat 7, 2000Antwerp, Belgium


We analyse the politics of the reform of teacher payment modalities in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) in light of the uneven territorial reach of the DRC state. The reform focused on extending this reach by paying all teachers via a bank account, replacing long-standing shared governance arrangements between state and faith-based organisations with a public-private partnership. By using qualitative and quantitative data, we map the political practices accompanying the implementation of the reform. While the reform itself was officially deemed a success, its intended effects were almost completely offset in rural areas. Moreover, governance of teacher payments was not rationalised but instead became even more complex and spatially differentiated. In sum, the reform has rendered governance processes more opaque and deepened the existing unevenness in the geography of statehood.

Research Article
Copyright © Cambridge University Press 2020

Access options

Get access to the full version of this content by using one of the access options below. (Log in options will check for institutional or personal access. Content may require purchase if you do not have access.)


We would like to thank Stylianos Moshonas for helpful comments and support in the process of cleaning up the quantitative data, Justin Mann for support in cleaning up the quantitative data, Bobo B. Kabungu for providing specific data, Gabi Sonderegger for support in drawing maps and Kristof Titeca and participants and the ECAS 2017 conference in Basel for helpful comments, as well as anonymous reviewers of an earlier version of this paper.


Allen, J. & Cochrane, A.. 2010. ‘Assemblages of State Power: Topological Shifts in the Organization of Government and Politics’, Antipode 42, 5: 1071–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Andrianne, P. 2008. Rapport de l’étude de diagnostic du Service de Contrôle et de la Paie des Enseignants. Unpublished.Google Scholar
Bashimutu, M. 2012.‘CARITAS se met au pas’, Bankarisation RD Congo. Le Miracle Congolais, pp. 4243.Google Scholar
Boone, C. 2012. ‘Territorial politics and the reach of the state: unevenness by design’, Revista de Ciencia Política 32, 3: 623–41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brandt, C.O. 2014. Teachers’ Struggle for Income in the Congo (DRC): between education and remuneration. University of Amsterdam, Master's Thesis. Unpublished.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brandt, C.O. 2017. ‘Ambivalent outcomes of statebuilding: multiplication of brokers and educational expansion in the DR Congo (2004–2013)’, Review of African Political Economy 44, 154: 624–42.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Brandt, C.O. 2018. Illegibility as a State Effect: the limits of governing teacher identification in the Democratic Republic of Congo. PhD thesis, University of Amsterdam.Google Scholar
Brunea, J.-C. & Simon, T.. 1991.‘Zaire, l'espace écartelé’, Mappemonde 4: 15.Google Scholar
Caritas Congo. 2012. Rapport Annuel 2012. Kinshasa: Secrétariat Exécutif de Caritas Congo Asbl Coordination.Google Scholar
Caritas Congo. 2016. Rapport d'activités 2015. Kinshasa: Secrétariat Exécutif de Caritas Congo Asbl Coordination.Google Scholar
Cuvelier, J. & Mumbunda, P.M.. 2013. ‘Réforme douanière néolibérale, fragilité étatique et pluralisme normatif’, Politique Africaine 129: 93112.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Deloitte, . 2017. Etude Sur Le Secteur Bancaire En République Démocratique Du Congo (2015–2016). Kinshasa: Deloitte.Google Scholar
Diemel, J.A. & Cuvelier, J.. 2015. ‘Explaining the uneven distribution of conflict-mineral policy implementation in the Democratic Republic of the Congo: the role of the Katanga policy network (2009–2011)’, Resources Policy 46: 151160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Dolan, J. et al. 2012. Building effective teacher salary systems in fragile and conflict-affected states. CfBT Education Trust & Center for Universal Education at Brookings.Google Scholar
DRC/MinFinance/Ordonnateur Délégué et de L'Ordonnancement. 2014. Domiciliation de la Paie de SECOPE/Provinces. Chefs-lieux des Provinces et des Districts ainsi que les Territoires. Mois de Juillet 2014.Google Scholar
DRC/MoE/SECOPE. 2014. SECOPE: Cartographie de la paie. <>, accessed 26 October 2017.,+accessed+26+October+2017.>Google Scholar
Englebert, P. & Kasongo, E.. 2016. ‘Misguided and misdiagnosed: the failure of decentralization reforms in the DR Congo’, African Studies Review 59, 1: 532.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gould, D.J. 1979. ‘The administration of underdevelopment’, in Gran, G. (ed.), Zaire: the political economy of underdevelopment. New York, NY: Praeger, pp. 87107.Google Scholar
vom Hau, M. 2012. ‘State capacity and inclusive development: new challenges and directions’, ESID Working Paper, 2.Google Scholar
Hoenke, J. 2009.‘Transnational pockets of territoriality; governing the security of extraction in Katanga (DRC)’, Universität Leipzig Working Paper, 2.Google Scholar
Jené, L. and Englebert, P.. 2019. ‘Tangled! Congolese provincial elites in a web of patronage’, Secure Livelihoods Research Consortium Working Papers, 64.Google Scholar
Jeune Afrique. 2013. RD Congo: la saga des salaires. <>, accessed 3 March 2016.,+accessed+3+March+2016.>Google Scholar
Li, T.M. 2005. ‘Beyond “the state” and failed schemes’, American Anthropologist 107, 3: 383–94.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Li, T.M. 2007 a. ‘Governmentality’, Anthropologica 49, 2: 275–81.Google Scholar
Li, T.M. 2007 b. ‘Practices of assemblage and community forest management’, Economy and Society 36, 2: 263–93.Google Scholar
Li, T.M. 2007 c. The Will to Improve: governmentality, development, and the practice of politics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Lund, C. 1998. ‘Struggles for land and political power: on the politicization of land tenure and disputes in Niger’, Journal of Legal Pluralism 40: 122.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mann, M. 1984. ‘The autonomous power of the state: its origins, mechanisms and results’, European Journal of Sociology 25, 2: 185213.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mann, M. 2008. ‘Infrastructural power revisited’, Studies in Comparative International Development 43, 3–4: 355–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Marysse, S. & Megersa, K.. 2018. ‘Real Governance in the DRC (2003–2016): between reforms and white elephants’, IOB Working Paper, 8.Google Scholar
Moshonas, S. 2014. ‘The politics of civil service reform in the Democratic Republic of Congo’, Journal of Modern African Studies 52, 2: 251–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Moshonas, S. 2018. ‘Power and policy-making in the DR Congo: the politics of human resource management and payroll reform’, IOB Working Paper, 1.Google Scholar
Mosse, D. 2004. ‘Is good policy unimplementable? Reflections on the ethnography of aid policy and practice’, Development and Change 35, 4: 639–71.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Mosse, D. & Lewis, D.. 2006. ‘Theoretical approaches to brokerage and translation in development’, in Lewis, D. & Mosse, D. (eds), Development Brokers and Translators: the ethnography of aid and agencies. Bloomfield, CT: Kumarian, pp. 126.Google Scholar
Olivier de Sardan, J.-P. 2005. Anthropology and Development: understanding contemporary social change. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
Pourtier, R. 2009. ‘L’État et le territoire: contraintes et défis de la reconstruction’, in Trefon, T. (ed.), Réforme au Congo (RDC: attentes et désillusions. Paris: Harmattan, pp. 3548.Google Scholar
Radio Okapi. 2017. Sud-Kivu: les fonctionnaires de Shabunda veulent désormais percevoir leurs salaires sur leur territoire. <>, accessed 17 October 2018.,+accessed+17+October+2018.>Google Scholar
Rhodes, R.A.W. 2007. ‘Understanding governance: ten years on’, Organization Studies 28, 8: 1243–64.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Schouten, P. 2013. ‘The materiality of the state: social contract theory, infrastructure and governmental power in Congo’, Millennium – Journal of International Studies 41, 3: 553–74.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Scott, J.C. 1990. Domination and the Arts of Resistance: hidden transcripts. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
Titeca, K. & De Herdt, T.. 2011.‘Real governance beyond the “failed state”: negotiating education in the Democratic Republic of the Congo’, African Affairs 110, 439: 213–31.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Trefon, T. 2011. Congo Masquerade: the political culture of aid inefficiency and reform failure. London: Zed Books.Google Scholar
Verhaghe, J. 2007. SIDA: ‘Salaire Insuffisant Difficilement Acquis’. Addressing the issue of effective teacher payroll expenditure in the DRC. Unpublished.Google Scholar
Verweijen, J. & van Meeteren, M.. 2015.‘Social network analysis and the de facto/de jure conundrum: security alliances and the territorialization of state authority in the post-cold war great lakes region’, Territory, Politics, Governance 3, 1: 97111.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Weiss, L. 2006. ‘Infrastructural power, economic transformation, and globalization’, in An Anatomy of Power: the social theory of Michael Mann. Cambridge, MA: Cambridge University Press, pp. 167–86.Google Scholar
World Bank. 2004. Democratic Republic of Congo Country Status Report on Education. Priorities and Options for Regenerating the Education Sector. Report No. 30860-ZR. 15 November 2004.Google Scholar
World Bank. 2008. Democratic Republic of Congo Public Expenditure Review (PER). Report No. 42167. March 2008.Google Scholar
World Bank. 2010. Teacher Policy and Management in Fragile and Conflict-affected Situations: a review of issues, policies and experiences.Google Scholar

Save article to Kindle

To save this article to your Kindle, first ensure is added to your Approved Personal Document E-mail List under your Personal Document Settings on the Manage Your Content and Devices page of your Amazon account. Then enter the ‘name’ part of your Kindle email address below. Find out more about saving to your Kindle.

Note you can select to save to either the or variations. ‘’ emails are free but can only be saved to your device when it is connected to wi-fi. ‘’ emails can be delivered even when you are not connected to wi-fi, but note that service fees apply.

Find out more about the Kindle Personal Document Service.

Reshaping the reach of the state: the politics of teacher payment reform in the DR Congo
Available formats

Save article to Dropbox

To save this article to your Dropbox account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Dropbox account. Find out more about saving content to Dropbox.

Reshaping the reach of the state: the politics of teacher payment reform in the DR Congo
Available formats

Save article to Google Drive

To save this article to your Google Drive account, please select one or more formats and confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you used this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your Google Drive account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

Reshaping the reach of the state: the politics of teacher payment reform in the DR Congo
Available formats

Reply to: Submit a response

Please enter your response.

Your details

Please enter a valid email address.

Conflicting interests

Do you have any conflicting interests? *