AFRICA/GUINEA - Students demand better conditions of life and study

Tuesday, 17 February 2004

Conakry (Fides Service) - Fifteen students arrested on 13 February during an unruly demonstration near the Gamal Abdel Nasser University of Conakry in the Guinean capital are still detained by the police, local Church sources told Fides. A demonstration against the arrest of a student leader on 11 February brought some 14,000 students onto the streets for a protest which turned into disorder.
Besides the release of their companion, the students had a list of other demands. First of all the re-admission of ten students expelled last year from Kankan university in north west Guinea; a fund for young people in search of work; elimination of university entrance exams; better conditions at universities and high schools; construction of student residences and hostels; public transport for students; access to computers for all students; larger scholarships.
These are onerous demands for Guinea, potentially rich (bauxite to produce aluminium) but with public finance in a bad way. “Nevertheless education is the key to improving the economy” a missionary told Fides. “ Guinea only exports raw materials, there is no additional work by local people. For example Guinea has only one railway line, which serves only to carry bauxite to the port. When the bauxite has been unloaded the trains return empty …they are not used even for passengers. This mentality of uncivilised exploiting of riches must be changed and the people of Guinea must be given the chance to use their talents. This is why education is so important ”. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides 17/2/2004, righe 27 parole 330)