Guinean schools reopen after month-long teachers’ strike

The strike paralysed schools and led to violent incidents.  By CELLOU BINANI (AFP/File)

The strike paralysed schools and led to violent incidents. By CELLOU BINANI (AFP/File)

Classes resumed Monday in Guinean schools after a month-long strike by teachers seeking the implementation of a 40-percent pay increase that was only partially fulfilled.

The strike, which began on February 12, had paralysed the education system and fractured relations between teachers, parents and the state, while President Alpha Conde faced criticism for allowing the industrial action to drag on.

“I am happy to see my friends and teachers again,” said final-year student Idrissa Camara, 16, outside a school in the Conakry suburb of Kibe.

“I failed the school leaving exam last year. This year is my final chance. These strikes haven’t helped at all,” he said.

The powerful teachers’ union agreed to lift the strike on Wednesday after gaining a guarantee of the pay hike agreed in 2017 which was only partially implemented in February.

The government and the union have also agreed to negotiations on May 2-25 for a base salary of eight million Guinean francs (717 euros, $880) and to a promise that strikers would not be punished.

The teachers’ strike ran parallel to protests by the opposition Union of Democratic Forces of Guinea (UFDG), two of whose supporters were killed during protests, according to reports.

Many parents were apprehensive that their children would lag behind in their studies.

“I am happy and worried at the same time,” said Dioulde Diallo. “I don’t know how the teachers will catch up.”

At least 12 people have died in the course of political and social protests in Guinea since the start of February.

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