Lecturer strike – Over 120,000 students miss examinations

Najemedine Jouida, national coordinator general of IJABA, the union of Tunisian university lecturers and researchers, described the situation in Tunisia’s universities as “catastrophic”. He confirmed more than 120,000 students in 72 university institutions had been hit by the lecturers’ administrative strike, which had already lasted a month, La Presse de Tunisie reported.

Jouida said they remained determined to continue the strike and were ready to escalate their protest. He stressed that other action would take place in addition to the lecturers withdrawing their teaching of examination subjects during students’ second semester.

He said the lecturers’ demands were “simple” and concerned the failure to implement the agreement made on 7 June 2018 between the union and the higher education ministry. This included provision for respect of public service status and widening the recruitment of doctoral students, reported La Presse de Tunisie.

“This agreement has not been respected,” said Jouida, who accused the minister of burying his head in the sand in dealing with the crisis.

He claimed the ministry had set up an “arbitrary” reform by reducing the number of course hours to cope with repetitive student absences.

He also said the ministry had done nothing to prevent corruption in private universities, of which many cases had been raised by the Court of Auditors, reported La Presse de Tunisie.

The private institutions were implicated in tax evasion, and had raised their fees by 65% when the law fixed the increase at 5%, he alleged.

IJABA’s deputy coordinator, Zied Ben Amor, added that Tunisian universities were currently in crisis because of a brain drain, with 4,500 academics having left the country. He said the higher education ministry’s budget was too low, accounting for only 4% of the state budget in 2019.

Meanwhile, a nationwide strike in schools has caused cancellation of the school-leaving baccalaureat examination, the “passport” for entitlement to higher education, depriving 110,000 candidates of a vital step in their schooling, La Presse de Tunisie reported. – Compiled by Jane Marshall

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