Mauritania: teacher unions united in call to save the national education system

Faced with the chronic shortage of teachers in the country, the use of contract teachers and an increasing privatisation in education, the trade unions have called on public authorities to urgently remedy the situation and parents to mobilise to save the national education system.

While Mauritanian schools suffer from a severe shortage of teachers more than a month after the start of the school year, two of Education International (EI) national affiliates, the Syndicat national pour l'enseignement secondaire (SNES) and the Syndicat National de l'Enseignement Fondamental (SNEF) have called on the government to quickly remedy the shortage of teachers.

For several years, according to SNES Secretary General Sidi Idoumou Boudide, the Ministry of National Education has been recruiting contract teachers lacking the professional qualifications needed and paying them unfairly. Said the Secretary General, “these contract teachers are only recruited at the end of the first quarter. Three months after the schools reopened! To pay them only six months instead of nine?”

The contract teachers, he insisted, have learned that only their colleagues in the southern Mauritanian region of Gorgol are invited to sign their contracts, when the President will visit the region at the end of November.

Condemnation of the privatisation of education

His counterpart for the SNEF, Diallo Hamady Boilo, stressed that “decidedly, the commercialisation of education is in full swing at home”. He condemned the fact that this privatisation is no longer limited to the proliferation of “shop schools”, but extends to the sale of public schools, discrimination in school enrollment and the reduction of teacher contracts. “Even if this means leaving children without teachers for several months, at the very least!”

Call to parents

The education unions finally jointly called teachers and parents to strengthen their ranks and mobilise in support of the Mauritanian education system.

Studies have documented the chronic shortage of trained teachers and the rise in the use of lower-paid and underqualified contract teachers across Africa. A recent analysis of UNESCO reporting on the continent found that governments need to be held accountable for lack of progress on the Sustainable Development Goals for education as “under-performing schools and teachers are usually victims of a dysfunctional system”.

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