No end in sight to teachers' strike

A strike by teachers in primary and secondary public schools throughout the Republic of Congo (ROC) entered the fifth day on Friday.

"The strike will go on as negotiations with the government are not progressing," Marcellin Ndoka Diki, the secretary-general of the Federation of Education Sector Workers of Congo, said after a meeting of teachers on Wednesday at Trois Martyrs Primary School in Brazzaville.

The strike began on Monday; the first day of the new school year. It is expected to last at least a month.

"We want better pay and extra pay during the examination period," Ndoka Diki said.

The teachers are also demanding better working conditions. Most classes have one teacher for 100 pupils and most teachers in the countryside as well as in the towns teach while sitting on the bare earth.

Like many civil servants in the ROC, the teachers are angry that the government's increased revenues from high oil prices are not being used to improve social services.

Government revenue from oil sales increased by 380.7 billion CFA francs (US $706.7 million) but the money must go to other sectors, the government spokesman, Alain Akouala, said on national radio on 29 September.

"It is not right to tell the Congolese people that the government has enough money to solve all the problems," Akouala said.

"The first thing the country has to deal with is the foreign debt. We are one of the most indebted countries in the world," he added.