Study on the effects of structural adjustment policies in Burkina Faso Contents



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Source: L’Evènement No. 32 of 25 November 2003.
Graph 2.1 Evolution of monthly salaries of Category-A1 employees from 1962 to date.

According to Burkinese economic statistician Cyrille Goungounga, the main concern of any wage-earner is that his or her overall remuneration (S) should enable him/her to acquire certain goods and services in stable quantities (Q), that is: dQ/dS = 0


2.2 Fall in purchasing power
Not only have nominal salaries dropped, but their value in real terms, i.e. their purchasing power, has also decreased as a result of:

- Trade deregulation and liberalisation;

- The introduction of Value Added Tax in 1993 and its increase from 15% to 18% in 1996;

- The establishment of an “informal sector tax” and “beverages 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).
Although the new taxes were coupled with a new customs tariff, they resulted in a significant increase in the prices of goods and services.

According to Pascal Zagré, the rate of profit-deregulation increased from 19.8% in August 1990 to 96.7% by the end of 1992. In the same period, however, inflation – as measured by the consumer price index – did not exceed 2.8%.

The prices of imported goods and services rocketed as a result of the devaluation of the CFA franc on 12 January 1994. Production costs were adjusted upwards to take into account the rise in the prices of production inputs. Distributors, shopkeepers and other retailers and distributors adjusted their prices accordingly, thus passing the price increase on to the consumers.

Price increases were particularly high in the following areas:



  • F1-type rents, which almost trebled in the period from 1991 to 1995;

  • The prices of small vehicles – e.g. between 1993 and 1998, the purchase price of a Yamaha V80 motorcycle and a Peugeot P50 scooter (two means of transport widely used by teachers) rose by 134% and 86% respectively.

Table 2.2 below gives an idea of the evolution of staple prices since the introduction of the SAP measures, while Table 2.3 shows the evolution of the consumer price index and inflation rate in the same period.
Looking at Graph 2.2 below, it should be noted that, following the devaluation of the CFA franc, it took five years to achieve price stability and bring inflation under control.
It is apparent that the virtual freeze on salaries since the late 1970s as well as salary cutbacks since the adoption of the SAPs, together with the devaluation of the CFA franc, successive tax increases and an inadequate control of inflation, have led to a significant fall in workers’ overall living standards.

In her address to the opening session of the 18th Congress of the SNESS (secondary and higher education teachers) on 28 March 2002, the union’s General Secretary stated that “since the 1990s the working and living conditions of teachers have worsened steadily… A rough estimate puts the proportion of teachers experiencing hardship at more than 82.2%.”


Table 2.2 Evolution of prices of staple products from 1990 to 2000

Item

1990

1991

1992

1993

1994

1995

1996

1997

1998

1999

Peanut oil

407

440

440

440

564

628

603

675

732

728

Corn

76

101

80

71

65

94

129

130

141

119

Small millet

81

130

89

81

78

98

149

136

185

135

White rice

170

170

175

175

207

243

250

250

270

276

Soap No3 HSB (665g)

300

300

300

300

385

449

538

325

421

454

Sea salt

82

91

86

72

78

81

104

133

206

119

White sorghum

77

109

83

75

70

89

128

126

158

128

Sugar (1kg)

370

370

370

370

446

517

530

556

584

554

Engine fuel mixture




300

300

300

383

380

375

381

393

383

Rent




F1 3,000

F1 3,857

F1 5,000

F1 5,750

F1 10,000

F1 8,100

F2 19,639

F3 66,250


8,094

23,060


68,750

8,648

18,976


62,500

8 266

17 942


62 500

P50 scooter

215,000







235,000













438,000




Yamaha 75

465,000







490,000













1,150,000




Source: INSD.

F1-type accommodation: plot of land; bedroom + living area built of adobe; water and electricity; no ceiling. F2-type accommodation: plot; bedroom + living area built of bricks; water and electricity; ceiling; outdoor shower and toilet. F3-type accommodation: residential area, F4-type cottage with kitchen, indoor toilet and garage.


Table 2.3: Consumer price index and inflation rate since 1990



Year

Index

Inflation

1990

122.9

-0.8

1991

127.5

3.8

1992

123.5

-3.2

1993

124.2

0.6

1994

154.9

24.7

1995

167

7.8

1996

177.2

6.1

1997

181.3

2.3

1998

108

5

1999

106.8

-1.1

2000

106.5

-0.3

Source: INSD. NB: For data from 1983 to 1997, 100 = June 81-July 82; link coefficient: 4.26. From 1998 onwards, 100 = 1996; link coefficient: 1.772


Graph 2.2: Evolution of inflation from 1990 to 2000


2.3 Increased workload, hardship and insecurity
Speaking of teachers’ current working conditions, the “Groupe de réflexion pour la revalorisation de la fonction enseignante” (Think Tank on Enhancing the Status of the Teaching Profession – GIRFE) refers to “growing impoverishment and unprecedented demoralisation”. (See also the letter reproduced in the box below).
The report of the ONSL42/ICFTU/AFRO Colloquium on the social dimension of structural adjustment in Burkina Faso (17-18 December 1998) notes that “the working conditions and heavy responsibilities in satellite schools are leading many teachers to give up their jobs.”
As mentioned in Section 1.3 above, DFCs and MGCs are basically multi-task teaching posts which involve, in particular, a doubling of the class preparation and assessment workload.
As regards working conditions, the efforts to provide schooling for as many children as possible has resulted in overcrowded classes and long working hours not only at primary level but also in secondary and higher education. At secondary level, teachers in the CEGs43 are required to teach 22 hours per week, while teachers in the lycées are required to teach 18 hours.
In its reports, the SNESS underlines that the rule which limits class size to 70 students per class in the first “cycle” and 60 students in the second “cycle” is generally disregarded, especially in the two largest cities, Ouagadougou and Bobo-Dioulasso. According to the SYNTER44, class sizes are continually on the rise: over 130 pupils in primary education and 120 at secondary level are not uncommon. At the university, up to 1,000 students crowd into lecture halls with a seating capacity of 600.
As we shall see in Chapter 3, many teachers work as supply teachers in other establishments or give private lessons to make ends meet – which of course adds to their considerable workload.
It should also be noted that widespread poverty combined with impunity have led to increased insecurity, particularly in remote areas. In November 2003 a young teacher was murdered by highway robbers who stole his scooter. Teachers in rural areas are frequently attacked and robbed of their possessions, including their highly-coveted means of transport.
A letter originally published in the Observateur Paalga 45

The events reported in this letter are a true story. They took place in the east of Burkina Faso.

The story I am going to tell may seem commonplace, in a sense. You might say this is just another news item, but I believe it raises some thorny issues and shows the extent of the problems confronting our country’s education system.

Some time ago I was dumbstruck to learn that Ramata, the wife of the local teacher (who is in charge of the intermediate-level class) in the village of Momba, had been abducted by a young villager who was infatuated with her. Yet it is difficult to think of a man more committed to his job than this teacher, who worked very hard day and night so that his pupils would get the best CEP46 results of all the Gulmancé people in eastern Burkina Faso and would be able to move on to the sixth grade.

Having unsuccessfully looked for his wife in the nearby villages, our teacher finally decided to go on strike.

Thus he, who was so hard-working and who applied himself so much to teaching children the rudiments of French, Maths, History, Geography and Science, called on the entire village to bear witness to his oath that he would continue on strike until his wife were returned to him.

At first the villagers thought our teacher was not serious about what he was saying. But after he had been on strike for ten days, they began to realise he was in earnest.

So the young people of Momba set out through the district, combing all the hamlets, villages and towns in Eastern Burkina Faso in search of the teacher’s wife, who was finally found and brought back to her home.

And so the pupils were happily able to resume their studies and prepare for the CM2 exams, which were drawing close.

This story of the abduction of the teacher’s wife raises a deeper issue, that is, the continual deterioration of the status of primary school teachers (and teachers in general).

According to my uncle Rasougou, in the good old times schoolteachers were not only respected but were actually revered by the whole village, for it was the best students in each promotion who were usually recruited as teachers. Schoolteachers were a role model and many young people dreamt of being able to become teachers.

It goes without saying that in those times it wouldn’t have crossed the mind of anyone in the village to kidnap the wife of a teacher.

It is simply preposterous that today teachers are so disrespected that a villager believes he can get away with such a deed.

Teachers undoubtedly deserve the recognition they used to enjoy.

In fact, it is pointless to invest billions of CFA francs in education when its key actors are marginalised and humiliated.

Ah, what times we live in!

When I think, dear Wambi, that not so long ago the “karemsamba” was held in such high regard in the villages that he was showered with tubs of millet, chickens and other gifts generously offered by the parents of pupils, I realise just how much the situation needs to improve for teachers to regain their proper status. This is also an essential task if we want to raise the education levels.

* : “Karemsamba” = schoolteacher



2.4 Increased job insecurity in the public sector
Employment relations and social protection have also been affected by the new policies. As far public-sector workers are concerned, the legal texts on which the general reform of public administration is based were adopted by the National Assembly in April 1998. More specifically, three laws were passed concerning:


  1. Government action and the distribution of competencies between the State and other development actors;

  2. Rules for setting up, organising and managing the government’s administrative structures;

  3. The legislation applicable to jobs and workers in the public sector.

According to the government, the new legislation “did not lead to any redundancies or cutbacks in pay, nor were any of the basic guaranteed rights of public-sector workers called into question as a result of its adoption”47.

However, the new legal texts abolish individual “statutes” and establish a precise distinction between civil servants and public-sector “contractual workers”. Above all, they enshrine contractualisation and job insecurity in the public sector. In laying down the grounds for the dismissal of workers, Article 162 of the new “Statut de la Fonction publique” (rules governing public employment), includes the need to reduce the workforce, i.e. redundancy on economic grounds.

The new “Statute” also enshrines the principle of promotion on merit.



But the real revolution in employment relations was brought about by the draft “Statute” (or rather, the lack of a clear legal status) for teachers recruited under the PDDEB. According to this document, they are to be given fixed-term (two-year) contracts which will be renewed depending on the available funding48. These teachers are to be recruited by each region, under a similar system to that used for provincial and municipal employees.
Teachers recruited with the funds generated through the debt relief accorded to heavily indebted poor countries (HIPC) do not enjoy civil servant status or even the status of public-service contractual workers. Candidates recruited by individual regions are required to work in the region concerned.
The 3,746 teacher trainees recruited under the HIPC debt relief plan in 2003 were in fact recruited for 12 regions other than the central regions (Ouagadougou), which still had to organise to be able to implement the scheme at a later stage49. These teachers have no right to strike.
As previously noted, there has also been an increase in the number of private schools, and hence in the spread of new kinds of employment relations in a sector where most workers have traditionally been public employees.
2.5 Social welfare benefits denied to teachers in the private sector
In the public sector, the reform did not call into question the existing social welfare benefits enjoyed by teachers, such as healthcare insurance. For example, the children of public-service primary and secondary schoolteachers still benefit from free education in the establishments where their parents work.
But, as Sissoko et al. point out, teachers work in difficult conditions. “In a context of precarious living conditions in rural areas, relatively few of them are provided with service dwellings (6,167 dwellings for 12,743 teachers in 1994/1995); and they have no electricity nor running water.”
In the PADEP survey questionnaire, respondents were asked whether they enjoyed any social welfare benefits and, if so, which. The table below shows the replies given by education workers.
Table 2.4. Social welfare benefits enjoyed by education workers in Burkina Faso





Yes

No

Other

Housing

22

78




Healthcare

4

96




Social security

8

90




Retirement pension

53

47




Crèches

7

92




Loans

8

92




Travel allowance

2

98




Other benefits

8

91



It is noteworthy that close to half of the respondents said they did not have a pension scheme. In its report to the Congress of XXX50, the SNESS notes that teachers in the private sector are subjected to various abuses, including the absence of contracts, lack of social protection, unfair dismissal, etc.


According to the records of the “Caisse nationale de sécurité sociale” (National Social Security Fund – CNSS), between 1990 and 2000 the 281 companies operating in the private education sector declared 3,023 employees overall. One hundred and forty-nine of these establishments declared fewer than six employees, and 46 declared only one, i.e. the minimum required for registration and to abide by the law51. This leads us to believe that, in the private sector, very few education workers benefit from social protection.

It should also be noted that, according to several previous studies, structural adjustment policies have affected women (both in their capacity as workers and housekeepers) more than men. However, the documents available to us do not allow us to confirm or deny this point.

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