|Study on the effects of structural adjustment policies in Burkina Faso
Secondary education 26
Diagnostic de l’Enseignement Superieur (Higher Education Diagnosis). 70
World Bank Document, 1044 Fina. 71
Nine guidelines have been defined for the implementation of the PDDEB: 73
In order to gather additional information on the impact of structural adjustment on education, as well as to assist teachers’ unions in the task of devising alternative strategies on education and structural adjustment and make member organisations more aware of the problems associated with structural adjustment, the global union Education International (EI) decided to undertake a number of case studies on the effects of structural adjustment policies on education.
A first study, conducted in Ghana in 1999, showed that even in that country, where Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAPs) have reportedly been a success, education has not been spared the adverse effects of such policies. Complementing the results of the case study on Ghana, EI’s second study focuses on the situation in Burkina Faso, another “model pupil” of the Bretton Woods institutions.
The following report summarises the results of the Burkinese case study.
SAPs, mismanagement and increased poverty
Burkina Faso entered the “SAP era” in 1991. After implementing an initial three-year SAP (1991-1993), in 1994 the country embarked on a second three-year programme, which was completed at the end of 1996. This was followed by a third programme from 1997 to 1999. Since 2000, the term “Structural Adjustment Programme” has been replaced by “Cadre stratégique de lutte contre la pauvreté” (Strategic Anti-Poverty Framework – CSLP) in the country’s official speeches and documents.
Education policies and SAPs in Burkina Faso
Before the advent of the structural reforms promoted by the Bretton Woods institutions, schools in Burkina Faso were characterised by:
Lack of touch with the country’s economic, social and cultural realities;
Ineffectiveness: In the 1991-1994 period, the average rate of school failure was 44% at CM2 level1; only 30% of pupils went on to secondary education, and only 54.8% obtained a certificate from a primary school (“Certificat d’Études Primaires”);
Low enrolment ratios: 0.7% at pre-school level, 30% in primary education, 7.8% in secondary education and less than 1% in higher education;
Disparities between boys and girls, between towns and the countryside and between different provinces.
In order to achieve the desired “expansion / gender equality / geographical equality / quality and relevance of education”, the Burkinese authorities and their partners, including the World Bank, have been concentrating their efforts, at primary school level, on what they call “educational innovations” and “alternative approaches” while, at higher levels, they have relied on privatisation.
Educational innovations (double-flow classes [DFCs] in urban areas and multi-grade classes [MGCs] in rural areas) are especially aimed at broadening access to primary school. Introduced experimentally in 1992-93, they became generalised in 1994-95. Double-flow classes catered for 40% of students in urban areas, thus containing urban demographic pressure, while multi-grade classes made it possible to provide schooling for 25% of children living in rural areas with very low population densities.
However, the most innovative initiative has undoubtedly been the introduction of “bilingual education”, which combines the traditional learning of French with the study of a national language as well as with productive work, also taking into account the socio-economic and cultural realities of the country.
“Thanks to the early learning centres already under experimentation at pre-school level, and building on the bilingual schools available at primary level as well as on Multilingual Specific Secondary Education (“secondaire multilingue spécifique” – SMS), bilingual education is set to become a coherent continuum which may gradually replace the traditional system…”
Bilingual education was introduced as part of a Ten-year Basic Education Development Plan (“Plan Décennal de Développement de l’Education de Base” – PDDEB) 2000-2009 which, on the basis of the guidelines laid down by the Jomtien and Dakar conferences, aims to lay the foundations of quality education for all (EFA) by the year 2015.
There were 21 bilingual schools in 2001, 40 in 2002, and 60 in 2003.
However, some actors of education, including many teachers, are far from enthusiastic about the educational innovations. DFCs and MGCs are regarded as a redistribution of the existing provision of education. In terms of schooling time – and certainly in terms of contents – DFCs and MGCs provide students with half the schooling they should normally receive.
Most people also find it hard to believe that the entire current syllabus – to which we must now add the study of a national language as well as “economically productive activities” and “activities to increase awareness of the positive cultural values of the local environment” – can be implemented more successfully through a course which is one-year shorter, even with the introduction of modular education and in spite of the annual number of learning hours rising from 600 to 800.
Another factor militating against French/mother tongue bilingual education is the existence, in the larger cities, of “bilingual schools” offering “French and English tuition”. As long as all the key business activities are conducted in French and as long as the competitions to access the best-paid jobs are also held in that language, the rural French/mother tongue rural schools will be regarded as “French/Afrikaner” schools – a way of dissuading the children of poorer families from applying for those jobs and redirecting them towards employment in farming and the crafts, i.e. they will be seen merely as a new version of the traditional “école rurale” or rural school.
In order to fill these multi-task teaching posts in basic education (DFCs and MGCs) with massive syllabuses (bilingual education), the authorities are increasingly resorting to National Development Service2 personnel, who very often have no teacher training, as well as to teaching assistants, i.e. staff who do not possess all the required professional qualifications.
In their strategies, the authorities and their partners seem to have been guided primarily by the need to reduce the costs of education – which are still, arguably, quite high – in order to make them more affordable for the “paying user”.
We are thus witnessing a shift from national education to regional education, which involves “making local governments responsible for developing basic education, buying the required land, building primary schools and managing them”.
It is this underlying cost-reduction strategy which also best explains the privatisation of education downstream of basic education. At the beginning of the 1999-2000 academic year, there were 212 state secondary educational establishments and 196 private ones. At the beginning of the 2000-2001 academic year, 60% of the 11,000 students in technical and vocational training were enrolled in private schools.
As for higher education, in 1994 the “Etats Généraux de l’éducation” (National Consultative Assembly on Education) listed one (1) state higher education establishment and three private establishments. The “Assises nationales sur l’Education” (National Education Conference) held in 2002 listed three and 11 respectively.
Privatisation is also proceeding in primary education. In 1994-95, four students in five (or 84.4%) were enrolled in state schools as against 15.6% in private establishments (including 9.25% non-denominational, 0.8% Catholic, 0.63% Protestant and 4.70% Medersa). At the beginning of the 1999-2000 academic year, there were 521 private schools in primary education, compared with only 146 in 1990-1991. From 1993 to 2004, in the space of 11 years, the number of private teachers in the jurisdiction of the “Ouaga 8” inspectorate increased eightfold, from 77 to 600, thus exceeding the number of teachers in the public sector.
Through its reforms, the government is entrusting education to decentralised structures (local and provincial authorities), the churches and NGOs, and shifting responsibility mainly to children’s parents, who are also the “contributor base” which funds these structures.
However, in spite of the introduction of the “educational innovations”, the quantitative targets that were set have not always been achieved. In 1996, the gross enrolment rate was 37.5%, compared with a target of 40%. In 2001, the enrolment rate was 42.70%, compared with a target of 48% set the previous year.
Of the three reasons mentioned most often in Burkina Faso for not enrolling children in school, parental opposition (36.6%) heads the list, followed at some distance by the lack of a local school (18.9%) and the cost of education, which is deemed to be too high (15%).
The 2002 “Assises Nationales sur l’Education” (National Education Conference) observed “disaffection toward the school in certain rural areas over the past few years” and noted that inequalities remained “significant between the genders as well as between regions, geographical areas and the socio-economic status of households”.
This situation results from the perception that children who go to school are often lost to their parents in terms of human resources. Job opportunities are so scarce that in effect the school system “manufactures unemployed people”. This lends credence to the view – put forward by distinguished professor Ki-Zerbo – that “it is perhaps poor schooling which leads to under-schooling”.
Other, external factors, such as the media and the urban environment, contribute to poor schooling. To these we must add major challenges like the digital divide and the growing HIV/AIDS pandemic, which are also having a negative impact on education today.
However, a regulatory framework, management structures as well as specific competencies and skills have been deployed to meet these challenges and develop effective policies and strategies. The means put in place include:
A framework law on education;
Five ministries (including five ministers, as many general secretaries, a number of technical consultants, administrative and financial directors, research and planning directors, project managers, regional directors, provincial directors, etc.);
Numerous experts and technical consultants of foreign partners and fund providers, who meet regularly in the course of missions or during seminars, workshops, symposiums, forums, national conferences, etc. to publicise and disseminate the results of the many studies carried out by national as well as foreign consultants and experts.
The question remains, however, whether their education policy – purportedly aimed at providing general education to the population as whole – will win the support of those who are directly concerned by under-schooling and poor schooling.
And what will be the fate of teachers, the key actors of education, given that the strategies implemented are also targeting their salaries?
The cost for education workers in Burkina Faso
In fact, the Terms of Reference of the study conducted on the employment of contractual teachers at local community level, provide for primary education teachers recruited under the Ten-year Basic Education Development Plan (PDDEB) to receive between 30,000 and 50,000 CFA francs “upon completion of service”. These pay levels are hardly above the Guaranteed Minimum Inter-professional Wage (“Salaire minimum interprofessionnel garanti” – SMIG) and do not today allow the average Burkinese family to live above the absolute poverty line.
With the introduction of the SAPs, even teachers employed under civil service pay scales have seen a reduction in their nominal salaries as a result of:
The definitive adoption of a 50%-decrease in housing benefit;
Pre-SAP career advancement measures have had no financial benefits attached to them since June 1990;
Adjustments to pay rates in 1993 and the reduction of the index-linked rate from 2132 to 1919; and, above all,
The new pay scales applicable to public employees under the general reform of public administration since January 1999.
Not only have nominal salaries dropped, but their value in real terms – i.e. their purchasing power – has also fallen owing to:
- Deregulation and the liberalisation of trade;
- The introduction of Value Added Tax in 1993 and its increase from 15 to 18 % in 1996;
- The introduction of an “informal sector tax” and a “beverages sector tax”;
- The devaluation of the CFA franc on 14 January 1994;
- The withdrawal of State subsidies for certain products;
- The rise in transport costs (two-wheeled vehicles and petrol, in particular).
All these factors have led to a significant fall in workers’ living standards.
Furthermore, the efforts to provide education for as many children as possible have resulted in overcrowded classes and long working hours for teachers in primary and secondary education and even in higher education establishments.
Widespread poverty and impunity for offences and violations have fuelled insecurity, especially in rural areas.
Employment relations and social protection have also been negatively affected by the new policies. The general reform of public administration, implemented in 1999, has led to job insecurity in the public sector. But the real revolution in employment relations will be brought about by the draft “Statute” (or rather, the lack of a clear legal status) for the teachers recruited under the PDDEB. The Statute’s provisions include:
Fixed-term contracts and
Recruitment at regional level.
Lastly, privatisation entails a new kind of employment relations in a sector where most workers have traditionally been public employees. In the private sector, very few education workers have social protection.
About 92% of the workers who responded to the PADEP3 survey questionnaire between 1997 and 2001 stated that primary school teachers in Burkina Faso earned less than they should. Their sense of frustration is exacerbated by the fact that, in order to carry out the adjustments promoted by the Bretton Woods institutions, the “powers that be” are asking workers “to tighten their belts to the last notch while they themselves are so gorged that their suspenders are snapping under the load of their fat bellies”.
Not surprisingly, therefore, all unions have issued statements rejecting the educational innovations and the PDDEB, and are taking action to protect their members’ established rights.
The unions’ response
Faced with the deterioration of their living and working conditions, education workers have reacted not only by fighting back through their unions and confederations, but also by trying to cope at individual level.
To make ends meet, teachers work in private establishments and give private lessons. The PADEP survey showed that most of the education workers who responded to the questionnaire earned extra income from secondary activities other than teaching. Only 42% stated that they were not involved in farming or stockbreeding.
Education workers are also struggling against the perverse effects of the SAPs through their unions, which have been engaged in training activities, collective bargaining and strike action. Some unions have also tried to make the most of the participation opportunities offered by the government in order to try to influence decision-making to their members’ advantage.
However, unions have mainly concentrated on recovering what their members have lost, and on protecting or improving the status of the teaching profession – with varying degrees of success. They have not – and are still not – putting forward alternatives to the sectoral policies decided by the various regimes or imposed by the Bretton Woods institutions.
At any rate, the results of trade union action are uneven.
Indeed, according to a number of PADEP studies, Burkinese trade unionism, which is generally “characterised by pluralism and extreme fragmentation into small unions that sometimes oppose each other”, lacks effectiveness. This lack of effectiveness is also due to the implicit undermining of trade union rights and freedoms which is associated with such phenomena as:
the politicisation of union leaderships, some of which have adopted malpractice as their basic management strategy, and
corruption and/or the harassment of trade unionists at company level.
Though less important, the struggle between top union officials to secure a greater share of international and national aid should also be noted as an adverse factor.
Education unions are no exception to this picture of the situation. There are no less than nine unions in the sector, including:
The “Association nationale des étudiants Burkinabés” (Burkinese Students’ National Association – ANEB), which organises students;
The “Syndicat national des enseignants africains du Burkina” (Burkina National Union of African Teachers – SNEA-B);
The “Syndicat national des travailleurs de l’éducation de base” (National Union of Basic Education Workers – SYNATEB);
The “Syndicat autonome des travailleurs de l’éducation de base” (Autonomous Union of Basic Education Workers – SATEB)
The “Fédération syndicale de l’enseignement et de la recherche” (Teaching and Research Trade Union Federation – FSER)
The “Syndicat du personnel administratif et de gestion de l’éducation et de la recherche” (Union of Administrative and Management Staff in Education and Research – SYNAPAGER).
The “Syndicat national des enseignants du secondaire et du supérieur” (National Union of Secondary and Higher Education Teachers – SNESS)
The “Syndicat national des travailleurs de l’Education et de la recherche” (National Union of Education and Research Workers – SYNTER).
Furthermore, a union of secondary and higher education personnel and teachers (“Syndicat des personnels et des enseignants du secondaire et du supérieur” – SPESS) has recently been founded.
In spite of some common initiatives by SNESS and SYNTER, joint action between all these different unions has been limited during the period of the introduction and implementation of the SAPs. Sometimes it is rivalry, rather than cooperation, which prevails on the ground.
Among other causes of the ineffectiveness of unions in Burkina Faso, PADEP notes the following:
The lack of management skills;
Inadequate training of union officials, who lack a clear understanding of their role and responsibilities in the union structures as well as of the regulatory texts governing employment relations.
It should also be noted that, during the introduction of the SAPs, a number of “putsches” were carried out against trade union leaders who had openly rejected the reforms. These “putsches” were perceived in the trade union milieu as a clear indication that implementation of the SAPs would go ahead with or without the agreement of the unions and in spite of any opposition from them.
Repression and corruption, fragmentation, lack of unity in action and dysfunctions associated with the lack of internal democracy have prevented the Burkinese teachers’ unions, which were once combative and successful, from effectively meeting the challenges resulting from the introduction and implementation of structural adjustment policies in the education sector and from countering them with alternative proposals.
Lastly, the government has often turned trade union struggles to its own advantage, portraying certain groups of workers as privileged in comparison with the “masses”, i.e. the underprivileged social layers that lack even the “basics” of human dignity: food, health, housing and education.
The result is a crisis of confidence – a rift between teachers and the general population, a high proportion of which are reluctant to support teachers in their struggle.
Towards more effective participation of education unions in decision-making
In this context, unions must of course protect their members’ interests, but they should also include, in their platforms, key demands that concern the community as a whole; they should take into account the concerns of the majority of the population, who have little or no access to information and decision-making processes.
To achieve this, unions must build strong organisations and function democratically and must, additionally:
Provide services that effectively and significantly improve their members’ working and living conditions and protect workers against injustice and inequality, and
Devise, implement and evaluate effective and efficient policies and strategies to promote the participation of their members and the population at large in decision-making processes in order to ensure that decisions always take into account the rights and interests of workers as well as of the beneficiaries and users of the education system.
In order to reverse the current trend towards fragmentation, mismanagement and resignedness among union members, and in order to promote a high degree of organisational autonomy and political and financial independence, unions must review their own structures and adapt them to the new context, starting from their very concept of trade unionism, including
Its fundamental principles;
Its structures (committee, branch, union, federation, confederation);
Its objectives and areas for action in the context of a world that is becoming globalised and at the same time regionalised;
Pluralism, which should be regarded as a competitive mechanism to provide members with better services, rather than as a “tripping-up contest” between trade unionists vying for power.
In order to be truly democratic, unions also require:
1- Leaders, i.e. efficient managers who are aware of their responsibilities and who:
Place the principles of justice and ethics, and the values of purposeful work, integrity and dignity at the centre of their lives;
Have a coherent outlook and are trained to analyse members’ problems and to develop, implement and evaluate programmes and projects;
Have “the ability to motivate others to achieve a common objective” and strive to involve all members in decision-making as much as possible;
Are intellectually and materially equipped to hold their own in argument with the champions of globalisation and their local representatives: WTO, IMF, World Bank, subsidiaries of multinational companies, etc.
2- Members who are aware of their roles and responsibilities within the union and who, more specifically:
Keep the leadership well informed of their wishes and aspirations;
Strive to enable the union leaders to make more effective and better-informed decisions, and ensure that leaders do not abuse their powers;
Take part in the union’s life financially and materially.
An acceptable regulatory framework is in place. There are also training programmes to build the capacities of union leaders and activists and improve the skills of workers’ representatives in the existing participation structures.
Once they have recovered their credibility, unions should launch broad-based awareness and education campaigns to turn sympathisers into full members, and members into activists, i.e. members who regularly pay their dues, take part in meetings and other events, assume responsibilities within the union and strive to overcome all obstacles to achieve the agreed demands.
The new climate characterising industrial and trade union relations also requires unions to review their instruments and work methods. Union leaders and activists should be well-informed, capable of benefiting from the results of research and able to access the knowledge available in universities and on the Internet. The aim is for them to “know how to find the information truly relevant to their activities among the mass of available information”.
With the globalisation of production and distribution, the limitations of traditional methods of struggle, including collective bargaining and strike action, are becoming increasingly apparent. Other methods, such as participation in civil society and the development of strategic campaigns, can sometimes prove more fruitful.
In order to campaign effectively, unions must broaden the scope of cooperation and seek new alliances (particularly with other civil society organisations), building coalitions and taking part in the alternative globalisation movement.
The history of the trade union movement, in which teachers’ unions have often played a key role, shows that no government can afford to ignore an alternative set of proposals submitted by a coalition led by unions. It was such a coalition that repeatedly foiled the attempts – even on the part of military regimes – to impose a single union and a single party in Upper Volta.