CÔTE D'IVOIRE: Teachers' strike threatens exams

Teachers in 145 private higher education grandes écoles voted to strike from 5 June, claiming nine months' back pay. Their action threatens to lead to a boycott of exams in July, reported Nord-Sud in Abidjan.

Lucien Hontchondo, general secretary of Synesup, the union representing teachers in private higher education, said that money paid by the public authorities for students they allocated to the private schools funded teachers' salaries and other costs. "Our salaries have constantly been under discussion, indeed negotiations with the employers. We are fighting to receive our pay," he told the newspaper.

But no teacher had received any salary during the academic year 2007-08, and no action had been taken to clear up the situation, he said, and he warned of future action. "As long as the problem remains, there will be no BTS (brevet de technicien supérieur, advanced vocational diploma) exams."

The teachers believed the root of the problem lay "in the presidential palace", said the newspaper. "We don't find fault with the [school] founders, insofar as they've received no money," said Hontchondo.

According to union investigations concerning the 145 grandes écoles, on average a sum of 200 million Fcfa (US$470,000) a week over a period of seven months was owed to settle the debt. Therefore the President of the Republic should be called on to deal with "this burning issue", said Hontchondo.

Teachers had been evicted from their homes for unpaid rent, and families had fallen to pieces, he said. "We live in debt and we are practically reduced to begging."

Full report (in French) on the Nord-Sud site