The Senegalese government and teachers’ unions have agreed on a maximum of fifteen days to find a solution to the ongoing school crisis.
By Oumar Dembélé
Shareholders of the Senegalese public school are not yet out of the woods.
After several weeks of a teachers’ strike, the government and the teachers’ unions met last Thursday, to provide answers to the demands of the latter, mainly concerning their pay system.
The two parties agreed on the establishment of a technical commission which should complete its work within two weeks.
According to a statement from the Ministry of the Civil Service, “the work of this commission should offer both parties the opportunity to confront their proposals and counter-proposals in order to reach a dynamic consensus, which would notably save the current school year.”
This closed meeting was held “in accordance with the conclusions of the plenary session of 7 January 2022, to address the issue of the remuneration system and the body of school administrators.”
It was organised amidst the disruptions to the education system, having notably “welcomed facilitators from civil society and the High Council for Social Dialogue” as recommended by President Macky Sall during the last cabinet meeting.
For several weeks, students in Senegalese public schools have not been attending classes.
Some teachers embarked on a walkout until nine o’clock before releasing the students.
In recent days, many teachers have taken to the streets to demand the resumption of classes, as the strike has lasted for too long in their opinion.
They fear a drop in standards due to insufficient number of hours.
A “cosmetic” proposal
On Friday, several newspapers reported on the meeting between the government and teachers’ unions.
While Le Témoin expects a thaw as far as the school crisis is concerned, Walf Quotidien notes that the state has presented itself to the teachers “without weapons”, quoting trade union leader Saourou Sène.
For others, interviewed by Le Quotidien, fronting “failed first exam” as its headline, this proposal is “just cosmetic.”
According to the newspaper, some participants were surprised that the government “came without anything concrete.”
For them, “Macky Sall’s government has shown that school is not a priority for them” because it “let the situation fester for weeks,” after the seventh action plan.
However, during the cabinet meeting of February 2, President Sall said he urged “the government, teachers, learners, parents and other components of the educational community, to ensure, each their specific responsibilities to ensure, together, the continuity of teaching, respect for the quantum of time, as well as assessments scheduled in accordance with the school calendar.”
Professing an importance he attaches to the stability and excellence of the national education system, President Sall said the government should communicate to the public, through an exhaustive memorandum, on the achievements, accomplishments and notable social progress, accomplished over the past ten years, particularly with regard to the upgrading of the teaching profession.