With funding from the European Union, FTA partners developed a strategy to improve governance by building capacity in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). This included developing an innovative natural and social science Master’s curriculum and an international PhD program, realized through multiple partnerships with, notably, the University of Kisangani and other universities and research organizations in France, the United Kingdom, Canada and Belgium. The DRC has the world’s second-largest area of contiguous tropical forests, after Brazil. In 2005, the country’s entire forestry research cadre comprised just six persons with Master’s Degrees (in comparison, Brazil’s EMBRAPA boasts more than 8,500 PhDs).
By the end of 2016, FTA partners had trained 119 MSc students and supported 25 PhDs. A new project “Formation et Recherche dans la Tshopo” (FORETS), funded as part of an 11th European Development Fund program in the DRC, will train an additional 60 Master’s and five PhD students between 2017-2021. These have been complemented by innovations in terms of novel teaching methods, the development of new Master’s curricula materials, the development of an electronic library, joint local and international supervision of students, an annual Science Week event and article-based theses. The Ministry of Higher Education (MINESU) has since adopted the “Science Week” model for all universities and faculties in the country.