Expelled students’ appeal deferred

An appeal to annul disciplinary action for campus violence against 16 students from the University of Koudougou in Burkina Faso – 14 of whom were excluded – has been postponed until 25 April. The events last year led to demonstrations and fighting between striking and non-striking students and staff.

Intervention by Minister for Secondary and Higher Education Moussa Ouattara failed to resolve the crisis. Meanwhile, the minister has visited the Universities of Ouagadougou and Ouaga-2 to check on progress of university construction projects.

The 16 students were disciplined, including the 14 exclusions, after campus violence and the alleged assault of a professor. The National Association of Burkino Students (ANEB) demanded that the sanctions be lifted, but the lecturers’ union Synadec insisted the punishments were just.

In reaction against the disciplinary action, students boycotted courses and evaluations, and fresh violence between striking and non-striking students and staff broke out on campus.

Synadec members withdrew their labour for 72 hours to protest against denigration of the teaching profession and violence on campuses, and in support of the professor who had allegedly been attacked by the excluded students.

The hearing for the appeal of the disciplined students was fixed for 28 February but their lawyer successfully asked for a postponement. ANEB, whose members had turned out in force to support the excluded students, pledged to continue to fight for their interests.

Meanwhile, Ouattara visited the universities of Ouagadougou and Ouaga-2 to see for himself how the government’s university building programme was progressing. On his tour Ouattara said: “It’s my duty to make sure that the buildings are being constructed,” reported Le Pays of Ouagadougou.

Under orders of the head of state, Blaise Compaoré, seven new lecture halls were planned – two at Ouaga-2, two at the University of Ouagadougou, two at the University of Bobo and one at Koudougou, reported Le Pays.

At Ouaga-2, lecture halls with a combined capacity of 4,000 places had already been completed, and other construction was taking place, including a 100-seat lecture hall, a restaurant, a clinic and student housing said Le Pays.

At the University of Ouagadougou the works director said there were difficulties because of the stony nature of the soil, while the manager of the building company said her difficulty had been that authorisation to start the building work had not been received. But, Le Pays reported, scheduled work on a lecture hall and dentistry unit was now under way.

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