Despite his growing reliance on the wealth of the Congo, Leopold never visited this territory himself. By 1908, the territory was so poorly managed that an international furor condemning Leopold had erupted. That same year, in an attempt to stem this furor, the Congo was ceded to Belgium and placed under the control of the Belgian government, not its king.
Belgium then administered the Congo as a colony until independence in 1960. Unlike other early twentieth-century colonial powers in Africa, Belgium did not directly oversee the education of the Congo’s indigenous population. Rather, it turned the responsibility for education over to missionaries.
In 1908, the Congo had 587 missionaries, mostly Catholic, who educated only 46,075 students, a very small fraction of the many residents. This small number of students stemmed from many factors. The number of missionaries was insufficient to educate a large population. But the missionary’s educational agenda, which often undermined indigenous African culture and promoted colonial domination, also deterred many Africans from pursuing European educations.