Mauritanian Minister of Education, Ahmed Ould Bahia
Nouakchott – Mohammad Sharif Abeidy
The Mauritanian Minister of Education, Ahmed Ould Bahia, was questioned before the parliament by opposition MPs who requested his appearance before the National Assembly, after being universally
criticised for the state of education in the country. The sector is also facing a crisis in teaching staff numbers and students being expelled on the back of protests across university campuses.
Opposition MPs charged him with corrupting the education system and exacerbating the student and teacher crisis. The deputies also questioned the delay of a public education forum the government intended to organise over the past year to develop a vision for education reform. Ahmed Ould Bahia said that the Mauritanian opposition faced a \"psychological crisis and confusion\" due to a drop in its supporters after demanding the regime depart, stating Mauritanians refused to get off the streets as the opposition has sought.
\"The opposition members live in another world away from truth and reality,\" he said.
Current president of the Mauritanian opposition Hatem Saleh Ould Hannh in turn said it was time for Mauritanian President Mohamed Ould Abdel Aziz to step down, adding that dialogue with those who do not have the power -- in reference to the initiative led by spokesperson for the Mauritanian parliament, Messoud Ould Boulkheir, to resolve the crisis -- was a waste of time.
\"The opposition acknowledges that the regime is not interested in any political process or dialogue, so there is no choice left but to act in order to end the dictatorship in Mauritania,\" said Hannh, while warning of the involvement of the armed forces in a losing war in North Mali for the sake of the implementation of a purely Western agenda.
MP Ould Badr al-Din criticised the minister saying education in Mauritania had failed because of wrong policies, a charge also backed by opposition MP Yacob Ould Amin who said the failure was the root cause of university and teachers’ strikes.
Meanwhile, dozens of students who were expelled from universities and medical schools, and teachers of secondary school protested before Parliament waiting for the Minister’s arrival and in support of opposition MPs who submitted their greivances.
The University of Nouakchott has been seeing protests for months, and the school year saw almost empty classrooms because of the strikes. The university’s administration expelled 21 students, and the Ministry of Education has decided to stop paying the salaries of striking teachers in secondary education, of which there are an estimated 1000.