Education unions in Francophone Africa are dismayed at the lack of consultation in government decisions to close all education establishments to fight the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. The unions representing teachers and education support personnel report that they had not been consulted on the best ways to ensure quality education during the crisis.
In Mali, the government decided to close all schools and learning centres for three weeks, starting 19 March. This decision was taken without the consultation or involvement of education unions. As of 18 March, no suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 had been detected in Mali, and the school closures were a preventative measure against the extension of the COVID-19 outbreak.
In Benin, public authorities also declared the closure of educational sites. In addition, social gatherings of more than 10 people have been prohibited. Finally, restrictions have been placed on entry visas into Benin. Similarly to Mali and Burkina Faso, the closure of schools due to the pandemic was not done in consultation with educators’ representative bodies.
No date can be envisioned for the resumption of courses in Burkina. To help children who have television, on the initiative of a private channel, an educational programme is broadcast live.
The Union Action Unit, which brings together education unions, sent a message to workers and the public to urge everyone to protect and protect themselves. It also called on the government to fight the soaring prices of basic necessities, mostly due to speculation.
Democratic Republic of the Congo
In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, President Félix Antoine Tshisekedi ordered all schools to close for four weeks as of 18 March. Private school headmasters and teachers, in particular, warned that this closure of schools would have a negative impact on their salaries.
In Senegal, schools and universities are closed until 3 April, this closure adding to an already difficult educational context: delays in the implementation of the curriculum, worrying lack of teachers and union actions to protest against the postponed implementation of collective agreements.