DAKAR, Mar 26 – Students are the hardest hit by the current crisis at the Cheikh Anta Diop University (UCAD) in Dakar where lecturers are on strike, the classes are overcrowded and the living conditions are harsh.
At the law faculty of the Cheikh Anta Diop University in the Senegalese capital, Dakar there has been no classes since 7 December 2011 due to a general strike by lecturers. Most students haven’t attended any classes since their first semester.
As a result, the faculty building has been deserted, with only a handful of students wandering around in the empty halls, on the lookout for signs of the eventual resumption of classes.
Sitting on a bench in a patio, Ibrahima Touré, who is a first year law student, is busy reading his notes.
“I am forced to take private classes,” he says. “It is because of the elections that we find ourselves in this situation. Our president does not have time to think about students; he is trying to get re-elected by any means possible.” At UCAD, many students like Abdou believe that “the future of the university will be determined by the outcome of the polls.”
In the small rooms of university residence Pavilion A, students pass the time speculating on the elections while drinking cups of duataya, the local tea. They appear demoralised. “The students are psychologically affected and seem discouraged,” says Malick Cissé, another law student.
“My parents are investing in my studies, but I am here doing nothing… this has been going on for almost four months and I fear it might be a lost year,” says Abachi Assed, a Comorian student at UCAD.
“We have already lost five months out of the nine, so how are we going to save the year? By extending it to September or October?” wonders Assed’s roommate, Nicolas. “I wanted to study abroad next year. Lost year or not, it will be too late to get credit for this academic year.”
In front of a derelict and dusty amphitheatre, Malick Cissé expresses his wish to see politicians improve the conditions here. “This university was normally meant to host 25,000 students but now there are close to 60,000 and that creates a lot of problems,” he says.
“In normal circumstances, whenever there is a class, this amphitheatre is packed to capacity: students have to line up for an hour before class if they want to get a seat.”
The article was first published on Radio Netherlands Worldwide (http://www.rnw.nl)