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Burkina Faso Students March for Their ‘Right to Education’

Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso

Several hundred students demonstrated Tuesday in Djibo, the main city in northern Burkina Faso under a jihadi blockade for several months, to claim their "right to education," including the sending of teachers.

The young demonstrators walked the streets of the city carrying signs that read: "We are also Burkinabè, we have the right to education," "Education is a right for all," "School in dotted in Djibo."

They then gathered in front of the offices of the High Commission of the province of Soum where they were received by the prefect of Djibo, Marou Ilboudo.

According to their spokesman Ali Dicko, the students asked to have teachers flown in, communication networks restored, and the city secured, among other requests.

"Classes have resumed since the beginning of October and … we do not have all our teachers. The Gaskindé attack (committed by jihadis at the end of September) is still in the minds of those (teachers) who left for the holidays and have not returned, given the security situation," a student contacted by AFP said on condition of anonymity.

"We want security to have access to education like other students in the country. We demand our teachers," added another student, who also requested anonymity.

According to the National Union of Secondary and Higher Education Teachers, the current school year is marked by the closure of more than 4,258 schools, which affects 708,341 students, throughout the country.

Added to this is a famine, including in some towns like Djibo, the main teachers union said.

In recent months, attacks affecting dozens of civilians and soldiers have multiplied in the north and east of Burkina Faso, where cities are now subject to a blockade by jihadis.

On September 26, a supply convoy of more than 200 trucks bound for Djibo was attacked by armed men in Gaskindé. At least 37 people were killed, including 27 soldiers and 10 civilians, according to the army.

This deadly attack, claimed like many others by al-Qaida, was seen as the catalyst for the coup d'etat of Captain Ibrahim Traoré, who took power on October 2, overthrowing Lieutenant Colonel Paul-Henri Sandaogo Damiba, who led the coup on January 24 of the democratically elected president, Roch Marc Christian Kaboré.