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14 April 2014
Zeynabou Kane

Education under attack: Cote d’Ivoire

In Côte d’Ivoire, armed groups and military forces destroyed, damaged, looted or used almost 500 schools and universities during the 2010-2011 post-election crisis.

CONTEXT

Civil conflict divided Côte d’Ivoire for more than a decade and caused the deaths of thousands of civilians. In 2002, a rebellion in the north led to a military-political stalemate in which the rebels, known as the New Forces, retained territory in defiance of the government-controlled south. At this time, the majority of teachers in the north fled and nearly all primary and secondary schools there ceased to function. Despite a 2007 peace agreement, few teachers returned to the north and, as a result, hundreds of thousands of children continued to miss out on education.599 People hoped that the presidential elections, held in October 2010 after repeated delays, would mark an end to the conflict. But renewed violence erupted when the incumbent president, Laurent Gbagbo, refused to concede victory to the internationally recognized president-elect, Alassane Ouattara, after a run-off vote in November 2010. Several months of failed negotiations led to fighting that left some 3,000 dead and at least 500,000 displaced.600 During this period, members of the Student Federation of Côte d’Ivoire (FESCI) – a pro-Gbagbo militant student group created in the 1990s – spread fear throughout the education system by attacking students, teachers and officials. The situation came to a head in April 2011 when pro-Ouattara forces overran the south and captured Gbagbo in Abidjan, with the support of French forces. Gross primary enrolment was 90 per cent (2011), while the rate of transition to secondary school was 49 per cent (2011) and gross tertiary enrolment was 8 per cent (2009).602 The adult literacy rate was 57 per cent (2011).

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