The 2 Sided Strike

As of last week, the first week of the new trimester, there has been very little teaching taking place at some schools in Burkina. 

That is because many of the teachers have not been getting paid for their work. 

The Teachers aka Side #1.            
To begin, new teachers (called “stagiaires”) have not been paid for their last year of work. There are also some who have not been paid for the last 2-3 months, in addition, there are others who were not paid for giving lessons in classes where their were a shortage of teachers last year (extra hour pay). 

Thus, there are those who have not been paid for as little as 2-3 months, and those who haven’t seen a pay check in as much as a year. These people are now refusing to teach until they see their money. 

So, where is their money?
Teaching in Burkina Faso is a government job, so my understanding is that that’s who has their money. But due to the “Popular Uprising” (that removed the entire Blasé administration, including the Minister of Education), the transitional government, last years coup d’état, and the recent elections, a few things have been forgotten…like paying the teachers. 

The Students aka Side #2             
As of last Friday (Jan 8th) the students decided they have a problem with the teachers strike. 

The students believe that it’s unfair that they are coming all the way to the school only to not have a professor for class. Thus, until all the professors begin to teach again they refuse to go to class, because they eau they “have the right to be taught,” especially since they have to pay for school. 
Now, they either don’t show up or refuse to enter the classroom. 
If a teacher, like myself, attempts to teach a class the Les Delegates des Élèves (Student Delegates) show up and say to stop the class. This has happened to me 2 times. 

LDS problems                                
The Lycée Départemental de Soubaka (LDS), my school, also has a few other specific grievances they are airing right now. A meeting was held today  (Jan 12) so that everyone could explain those grievances.

The problems include: 
1. The Broken Well/ Lack of Potable Water- My school has no running water, but there is a well next to the school where all the professors, and students get water to drink, and to clean the chalk board. It’s the only place to get water, but it’s often broken. 

2. No Salle de Prof (Teachers Lounge)- My school has no teachers lounge. Thus, the teachers sit under a tree outside the Headmaster’s office between classes. 

3. Lack of Toilets- For 21 teachers, 7 admin people, and hundreds of students at LDS there is…1 latrine. Apparently, they have been asking for more for the past 3 years. 

4. Lack of Teaching Materials- There are not enough teaching materials for all the teachers. For example, there are no maps for Geography class, and not enough rulers big enough for Geometry teachers to use on the chalk board. Without these materials the lessons are not as effective. 

5. No Vacation Last Year- Last year the Professors were not allowed to go on vacation, though I’m not quite sure why. They would like to be paid for that vacation time. 

6. Administration Problems- The Professors have expressed that they are not pleased with the current state of their relationship with the Admin staff. 

Problems have been ignored, information is not spread to all the Professors, and the attendance of Admin staff is insufficient.

Solutions? / The Future          
Sadly, there is no quick solution to these problems. 

The Regional Education Office has said by the end of the month they can pay 600 of the teachers who haven’t been paid. This offer has not been accepted because they want everyone to be paid at once, but with more than 600 people being owed as much as 250,000 CFA*,the office doesn’t have the money, and they have no Minister of Education to turn to.
The problems specific to LDS also have no quick solutions, because the money to fix the problems just isn’t there. 

It’s not possible to fix the well, buy supplies, and build a teachers lounge and toilets over night. Some of it didn’t even happen in the past 3 years.

So what now?                                       I’m not sure. But I don’t imagine there will be any changes unless the Professors start getting paid, at a minimum. 

Until then, I’ll just keep showing up to school, waiting to teach. 

*1 USD ~ 560 CFA


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