See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

Côte d'Ivoire: When Will the Universities Reopen?

This post is part of our special coverage Côte d'Ivoire Unrest 2011.

[All links in are in French unless otherwise indicated]

During the post election crisis in Côte d'Ivoire [en], the country's three universities (Cocody, Abobo-Adjamé and Bouaké) were closed and the halls of residence cleared of their residents. While many Ivorians welcomed this measure at the time, today many are questioning the uncertainty surrounding the reopening of the universities.

The closures had two specific aims:

- To free up the rooms that were illegally occupied by non-students, especially members of the powerful, not to mention armed, Fédération Estudiantine et Scolaire de Côte d'Ivoire (Federation of Ivorian Students and Scholars)

- To renovate the buildings, which were in a serious need of repair.

The decaying state of Cocody University in Abidjan. Image by Alexenafrique, copyright Demotix (13/10/11).

The decaying state of Cocody University in Abidjan. Image by Alexenafrique, copyright Demotix (13/10/11).

Despite the fanfare that accompanied the beginning of the works, with visits from the Higher Education Minister Cissé Bacongo being reported across the Ivorian national media, the uncertainties surrounding the date when courses will finally resume were a source of concern for students, teachers and parents.

Construction at Cocody University, Abidjan, October 2011. Photo by author.

Construction at Cocody University, Abidjan, October 2011. Photo by author.

Over the last few days the debate has intensified on social networking sites, particularly on Twitter. Government minister Antoine Mian, a campaigner for IT and telecommunications in education, has underlined the risks of a prolonged university closure:

@MIANSEH: idleness is the root of vice #VICES and Ivorian students have been idle for the past 5 months. Hello #VICES #sosUniv #criseUniv #civ2010

Micro-bloggers have not been slow to ask the question directly to Alain Lobognon, one of the few Ivorian ministers to have an active Twitter account. Marc Antoine Hodonou demanded to know:

@Ceschod: just 1 question: has a date been set for the reopening of the U[niversity] campuses at #Ci225 ? #civ2010 #civ225

More pragmatically, Don Prince suggests a compromise solution allowing the works to continue and teaching to resume:

@princedonk: What I want to say is that classes can run while a part of the univeristy is under construction, if a little care is taken! #sosUniv

According to him, the Institut National Polytechnique Houphet Boigny (INP-HB) has already proved that this could work. This public, higher education institute based in Yamoussoukro (the political capital) has a faculty in Abidjan and its students were housed on the Cocody campus. As Don Prince points out, despite the closure of the Cocody campus, courses have carried on at the INP-HB:

@princedonk: Despite the university closures, the INPHB faculty at Cocody university has remained operational, example to follow #sosUniv

If this solution was rolled out across the universities, lecture halls and other rooms would be quickly put straight and the students could resume their courses again despite the campus closures.

For others, difficulties surrounding housing and transport at Abidjan encourage them to suggest other solutions, like distance learning. Hagger55 suggests:

@hager55: online teaching; video conferencing to catch up on years that have already begun @anarshy @Sanders225 #sosUniv #civ2010 for speed

But, in the absence of appropriate infrastructure and the lack of households with the required IT equipment, this solution is unlikely to succeed, as Stephane Kouakou points out :

@iamstephanek: Equipment levels? @hager55: on line teaching; video conferencing to catch up on years that have already begun @anarshy @Sanders225 #sosUniv

To reassure everyone, Alain Lobognon announced:

@MIANSEH: The date has been set.  It will be made public start of November by the GOVT #ci225 We are avoiding past mistakes #civ2010

But he insisted on specifying:

@MIANSEH: The Universities wont be reopened hastily. Address problems before opening #ci225 #civ2010

The message is clear, Ivorian students need to be patient and consider alternative solutions like the private, higher education Grands Ecoles or civil service entry exams (civil service courses have not been interrupted).

This post is part of our special coverage Côte d'Ivoire Unrest 2011.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices
Email Frequency



No thanks, show me the site