Saturday 16 December 2017

Guinea schoolchildren protest in support of teachers' strike

Guinea schoolchildren protest in support of teachers' strike
(AFP (eng) 11/20/17)
File Photo

Thousands of schoolchildren in Guinea descended onto the streets of the west African country on Monday to support a walkout by their teachers against the government.

Students are angry with the administration of President Alpha Conde over the arrest on Saturday of three teachers who called a strike on November 13, and over education standards more generally.

The young protesters cried "Alpha Zero" in reference to the Guinean leader and "We want our teachers, no to sabotage and to politicising school!" while erecting barricades and overturning trash cans in the capital.

Four people were injured in live fire by security forces on Monday in Dabompa, to the east of Conakry, after eight people were killed in similar clashes after teachers went on strike in February.

At the home of Education Minister Ibrahima Kalil Konate, students threw stones at security forces guarding the residence, according to an AFP correspondent at the scene.

Businesses and petrol stations closed and public transport was halted in the tense atmosphere.

The three teachers were arrested for calling what the government has declared an illegal strike over salary increases.

A spokesman for their union, Mohamed Bangoura, said the arrests "will not weaken our movement".

"Teachers have decided, on the contrary, to double down at a moment when our colleagues are behind bars," he told AFP.

More than a third of Guinean children never finish primary school, according to the UN education and culture body UNESCO.

Teachers frequently complain of poor salaries, and establishments often lack basic materials for instruction.

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