Schools have reopened in the Democratic Republic of Congo but the threat of a teachers strike looms large on the horizon.
If it goes ahead, the strike will seriously compromise the provision of free primary education, a project launched by President Félix Tshisekedi in September 2019.
Despite the threat of strike, for many parents the reopening represents a step in the right direction.
"The first day of school this year is better than the previous one. A number of students have returned to school despite the Covid-19 difficulties we experienced last year", says Florence, a parent.
Teachers reclaim better salaries and better conditions.
Unlike in the past, parents no longer pay teachers directly. Instead, the salaries are paid by the government.
"As teachers, we want to support the lift of schools' fees while we wait for our promised salary. We need to receive something more of course", defends Jean-Claude Mulombe, vice-principal of Gombe Primary School.
Experts estimate that the cost of providing free education reaches 2,64 billion dollars a year.
DRC's yearly budget is estimated at 7 billion dollars.