National University of Zaire

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National University of Zaire
Université nationale du Zaïre (UNAZA)
Type National university (Public)
Established 1971–81
Location Kinshasa; Lubumbashi; Yangambi, Zaire

The National University of Zaire (French: Université nationale du Zaïre, or UNAZA) was a federated university in Zaire (the present-day Democratic Republic of the Congo).[1] It was formed in August 1971, initially as the National University of the Congo (Université nationale du Congo)[a], when the country's three existing universities and 17 technical colleges were merged into a single administrative structure. The reforms were designed to allow the Congolese dictator, Mobutu Sese Seko, and his governing Popular Movement of the Revolution party greater control over the Congolese university system which had previously been a source of political dissent.[b][3][4] The reform also allowed the Zairian state to break the ties which had traditionally connected the country's university education to the Catholic and Protestant churches under the government's programme of Authenticité.[2]

Under the UNAZA, specialised campuses were established for particular disciplines: faculties of Social Sciences, Agriculture, and Medicine were established at Lubumbashi, Yangambi, and Kinshasa respectively.[5] It received foreign aid from the American Rockefeller Foundation and from the Zairian government.[5]

The UNAZA soon encountered problems. Much of the promised financial support from the Zairian government never materialised and the university was also subject to political interference.[5] Administrative support and library resources were poor and members of faculty were frequently left unpaid.[5] The poor transport infrastructure in Zaire also made the university's federal structure difficult to sustain.[3]

In 1981, the university split back into its constituent institutions: the University of Kinshasa (previously the University of Lovanium); University of Kisangani (previously the Free University of the Congo), and University of Lubumbashi (previously the Official University of the Congo). The UNAZA structure was maintained in a basic administrative form to facilitate cooperation between the different independent universities.[3]


  1. ^ The country's name was changed from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Zaire in October 1971.
  2. ^ Major unrest at university campuses in 1969 had led to a military crackdown on student dissent and a two-year suspension of university tuition.[2]


  1. ^ "The National University of Zaire: Birth, Organizational Structure and Development". Education Resources Information Center. Retrieved 13 May 2016. 
  2. ^ a b Young, M. Crawford; Turner, Thomas (1985). The Rise & Decline of the Zairian State. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press. p. 198. ISBN 978-0-299-10113-8. 
  3. ^ a b c Lulat, Y. G-M. (2005). A History of African Higher Education from Antiquity to the Present: A Critical Synthesis. London: Praeger. p. 358. ISBN 0-313-32061-6. 
  4. ^ "Zaire: Policy Changes". Country Data. December 1993. Retrieved 15 October 2016. 
  5. ^ a b c d "National University of Zaire". Rockefeller Foundation (100 Years). Retrieved 15 October 2016.