Holding end-of-school exams 2021-2022: did ECOWAS sanctions save Minister Dédéou Ousmane?

At the same time, the sanctions imposed on Malians by the ECOWAS and UEMOA Heads of State or Government are considered illegal, illegal and inhumane, a way out for Ms Sidibé Dédéou Ousmane, Minister of National Education. Nevertheless, the disastrous measures were a “given of relief” for the department head and her team, who ultimately escaped the union action envisioned by the school union.

With the arrival of Colonel Assimi Goita, chairman of the transition, and its Prime Minister Choguel Kokalla Maiga in power, one of the main problems facing the country has remained the solution to the crisis that Malian schools have been experiencing for years. Barely appointed in June 2021, the current head of government, Dr. Choguel K. Maiga, reaching an agreement with Yacouba Katilé’s UNTM. At the time of the complaint, this largest trade union center (UNTM) in Mali was arguing for harmonization of the salary scales of civil servants in addition to certain grievances. With the entire country paralyzed every time Mali’s National Workers’ Union goes on strike, Prime Minister Maiga thought it helpful to meet his demands by harmonizing wages when appointed as prime minister. Something that provoked the anger and misunderstanding of teachers’ unions who believed it “impedes the application of Article 39 of the Teachers’ Statute”. Upon discovering that as a result of a corrected transition, the government had subsequently sacrificed the Malian school by meeting UNTM’s grievances, the October 15, 2016 signatory education unions immediately entered an impasse against the government of Dr. Choguel Kokalla Maiga. “The unification of salary schedules blocks the application of Article 39. We are not against the struggle of any union, but we are also going to fight with all legal means to preserve these union profits. Article 39 was acquired after protracted trade union struggles,” confided trade union spokesman Ousmane Almoudou Touré. For weeks and months, negotiations between the union party and the government, represented by the Ministry of Education and other ministries, were doomed to fail. Based on the different programs, the union members’ instructions to the activists in no way allowed for regular classes to be held during the 2021-2022 school year. In the circular of October 28, 2021, hard instructions were given to teachers by union members a few days after the start of the school year. Regarding the non-evaluation of students; do not take double classification and holiday lessons; do not take overtime; do not take classes with more than 50 students… Even if some of these measures were later lifted, others will remain in effect until Sunday 9 January 2022. Date on which sanctions identical to the embargo will be imposed on Malians by ECOWAS and UEMOA. The next day, Monday, January 10, 2022, the union body will make new announcements to calm the climate. “The signatory education unions of October 15, 2016, followed through the state media the sanctions imposed on Mali at the end of the extraordinary sessions of the sub-regional organizations (ECOWAS and UEMOA). These disproportionate and unjustified sanctions, given the openness to dialogue of the Malian authorities, represent a sacrifice for every citizen,” reads the press release of January 10. This is why “the education unions have decided to suspend their current strike slogan and all planned actions until the situation improves,” they said. After officially making this “patriotic” commitment, the union members and their education activists have properly continued to teach the students without embarrassment. It is thanks to this word that the 2021-2022 school year has not known any disruptions like other years. By this gesture, some believe that the teachers wanted to comply with the provisions of Article 22 of the Constitution which states: “The defense of the homeland is the duty of every citizen”. With the announcement of the year-end exams scheduled from June to August 2022, can’t we say that the Minister of National Education, Ms. Sidibé Dédéou Ousmane, has finally been rescued? Especially since we remember that last year’s exams were boycotted by teachers because of the same claim (application of Article 39) which is currently unresolved.

Mamadou Diarra


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