Niger: March for education

Up to 15,000 teachers, students and human rights activists yesterday marched through Niger's capital, Niamey, demanding more funding for the education system.

Protesters are also calling for parliament to change a 1998 bill which they blame for lowering teaching standards as experienced teachers now have to retire at 50. The bill, passed in exchange for World Bank and International Monetary Fund support, has resulted in new university graduates serving as temporary replacements for those who retire – an action seen as one of the causes of a drop in standards. Secretary General of EI affiliate SNEN, Kassoum Issa, said demonstrations would continue until the government changed the law. He also complained that parents now find themselves having to pay for school supplies - such as textbooks and stationary - rather than relying on the state to provide these necessities for free. The march dispersed peacefully and nationwide action is planned for 31 March.