Algeria: Twitter Protest Against the State of Education

Algerians on Twitter staged a protest against the state of education in their country, with Aboubakr Benbouzid, the Minister of Education, serving as a focal point. Borrowing from the slogan “Ben Ali dégage” (Ben Ali get out) made famous by the Tunisian revolution last year, they adopted the hashtag #BenbouzidDégage.

Participants were invited to the ‘event’, which took place on June 14, through this poster prepared by @copi35:

Invitation to #BenbouzidDégage

Invitation to #BenbouzidDégage

#BenbouzidDégage Thursday June 14 at 8:00pm Algerian Twitter users, tweet about the state of education in Algeria. Come in numbers

That evening's activity were explained clearly by Rachid Laireche [fr]:

@RachidLaireche: Ce soir la twittosphère algérienne est en mission. L'objectif: virer le ministre de l'éducation en poste depuis 20 ans. #BenbouzidDégage

@RachidLaireche: Tonight the Algerian twittersphere is on a mission. The objective: Fire the minister of education who has been holding the position for 20 years #BenbouzidDégage

(In reality Benbouzid has been a minister for 19 years, 14 of which have been spent as Minister of Education).

Hamoud Aissam described the assignment succinctly [ar]:

@hamoudaissam: اليوم حصة تعبير وإنشاء تحت عنوان “أخرج ما في قلبك تجاه وزير التربية الجزائري المدعو بن بوزيد” ‎‪#BenbouzidDégage
@hamoudaissam: The topic for today's essay writing session is “express everything that is in your heart about the Algerian minister of education Benbouzid. #BenbouzidDégage

For Ismail Chaib going to Twitter for such an action made sense:

@iChaib: Since demonstrations are neither allowed nor effective in ‪#Algeria‬, the youth is demonstrating on Twitter and it works! cc ‪#BenbouzidDégage

Yasmine Bouchène launched the tweet wave on time:

@Yaspuppchen: 1, 2, 3, let's begin the ‪#BenbouzidDégage‬.

It began with gently sarcastic tweets such as this one from Arslan Mouloudi:

@Bahimund: Ouvrons le bal gentiment; ‪#BenbouzidDégage‬, s'il te plait ? Tu es en place depuis 1993. JE SUIS NÉ EN 1993 !

@Bahimund: Let's open the show nicely. Benbouzid get out please? You have been in place since 1993. I WAS BORN IN 1993!

The campaign lasted well over four hours. Sporadic tweets carrying the hashtag are still arriving at this time.

Tweeters protested against the record longevity of the minister which was aptly captured by this picture, posted by Youcef Baaloudj, which shows that France had 10 different ministers of education during Benbouzid's tenure.

Ministers of Education in France and in Algeria

Ministers of Education in France and in Algeria

@youcefbaaloudj: بن بوزيد يتحدى الملل… عشرة وزارء فرنسيين مقابل وزير جزائري واحد! ‎‪#BenbouzidDégage‬
@youcefbaaloudj: Benbouzid defies boredom…10 French ministers against one Algerian minister #BenbouzidDégage

This led Seif Eddine to comment wryly:

@seifo92: وزير التربية الأسبق، كلمة لا وجود لها في الجزائر ‎‪#BenbouzidDégage
@seifo92: The previous minister of education: a phrase that does not exist in Algeria #BenbouzidDégage

The poor quality of education, the lowering of standards, the repressive atmosphere in schools, and inflated success rates were recurring themes in the tweets posted that evening.

Algerian Mesperpe7 ‏commented:

@copi35: L'école algérienne apprend aux élèves les problème sans jamais leur apprendre à créer la solution. ‪#BenbouzidDégage

@copi35: Algeria's schools teach students problems without ever teaching them how to create their solutions #BenbouzidDégage

Then Imene complained:

@mouna_dz: بكالوريا العام الماضي 44 بالمئة تحصلوا على الامتياز، أبحث في الجامعة فلا أجدهم ‎‪#BenbouzidDégage‬
@mouna_dz: Last year 44 per cent of students passed the baccalaureate (the national university entrance exam taken by all high school seniors) with honors but I can't find them at the university #BenbouzidDégage

For her part, Yasmine Bouchène mentioned the repression she experienced when she asked that a word be translated to her native Kabyle:

@Yaspuppchen: Au primaire, j'avais demandé la traduction d'un mot arabe au kabyle. On m'a réprimandé. J'avais 6 ans. ‪#TamazightEnseignée‬ ‪#BenbouzidDégage

@Yaspuppchen: In elementary school I asked for the translation of an Arabic word to Kabyle, I was reprimanded. I was 6. #TeachTamazight #BenbouzidDégage.

Tamazight is the name of the native language of North Africa and its teaching has been a contentious political issue in Algeria for many decades.

According to a report from the hash tag “BenbouzidDégage reached 13,269 accounts.

Although centered on Twitter the operation also had a Facebook component.

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