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Student protests spread against abolition of grants

Student protests that have been taking place for several weeks against the abolition of grants have spread from the capital N’Djamena to the provinces.

Abolition of student grants was one of 16 measures announced by the government to deal with the country’s economic crisis, reported Radio France International or RFI in mid-September. The government’s argument that it would use the funds for university purposes was rejected by the students.

Mahamat Borgou, director general at the higher education ministry, said the students needed to understand that the move would benefit the universities.

“With this measure the state will be able to make economies of between 7 and 9 billion francs [US$12-15 million]. But for four years we have worked only on improving university services – increasing meals provision from one to two, installing services and so on. But as for the true mission – a higher education of quality, professionalising higher education – very few funds have been provided.”

The student protests have now spread from N’Djamena to the provinces, reported RFI. Last weekend students in the oil town of Doba carried out a violent demonstration, joining those in other towns who are against the government’s decision that they consider to be contrary to President Idriss Déby’s promise to young people.

“The president of the Republic, in his investiture speech, promised Chadian youth a quality education from nursery to higher. And he called on these young people to give themselves to the nation. And today, I think that the students’ determination is also a gift. Why? Because they want better conditions of study to serve the Republic better,” RFI quoted Barka Matkissam, president of UNET, the National Union of Chadian Students, as saying.

For several days police had occupied campuses to prevent student gatherings. In response, the students changed their strategy, dispersing in small groups to attack administrative vehicles and burn tyres in the streets, reported RFI.

* This article is drawn from local media. University World News cannot vouch for the accuracy of the original reports.
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