Union strikes against ‘threat’ to public universities

Morocco’s higher education union Syndicat National de l’Enseignement Supérieur, or SNESup, called a three-day strike at the end of September in protest against proposed government reforms which it claimed threatened public universities and infringed its members’ rights.

SNESup asserted that the public university sector was suffering from a ‘structural anomaly’ and a national effort was needed to carry out a global reform of higher education as a means to support economic and social development.

It rejected the ministry’s policy which sought to “put an end to the public university”, reported Libération of Rabat.

Abdelkrim Madoun, general secretary of the union, said the strike was called in response to unilateral decisions taken by the ministry without consulting the union.

Among contentious issues were a parliamentary bill that would revise the status of lecturer-researchers, and a decision to raise their retirement age.

Madoun also said SNESup totally rejected the ministry’s intention to set up fee-charging educational institutes in disciplines such as medicine and architecture.

These, he said, smacked of a ‘rentier approach’ – only for those who could afford it – and would exhaust the universities’ human and material resources; they would be contrary to the national charter of education and training.

He evoked the “inadequate” working conditions of teaching and research personnel, stressing the need for increased resources to keep up with the increase in the number of students.

In an earlier statement, SNESup also said it considered it unacceptable to place the presidency of the national higher education evaluation agency under the authority of the head of government, which would be a breach of the agency’s independence, reported Libération.

But Madoun said the union hoped to build a “true partnership” with the ministry, with a view to a global reform of higher education and scientific research, reported Libération.

Madoun claimed the rate of participation in the strike reached 100% in university centres in Oujda, Rabat, Casablanca, Agadir, Meknès, Fes and other towns, reported Libération.

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