Michel Menga M’Essonne, Gabon’s education minister, announced that classes will resume nationwide on Thursday, April 18, following meetings with student and parent groups earlier in the week. According to M’Essonne, the new conditions for awarding scholarships will not come into effect until next year. A working group has also been formed to assist in implementing the reforms. Further protests by students are possible in the near term despite the government’s decision.
The government suspended classes across the country on April 11 due to student protests against the education reforms. Thousands of students took to the streets in Libreville, Franceville, Lambaréné, Makokou, Moanda, Port-Gentil, and Oyem to protest the proposed government policies. A draft of the reforms was released in March, which would reduce the number of students eligible for government grants, place a maximum age for access to the funds at 19, and require applicants to score relatively high on school exams (at least 12 points out of a maximum of 20). Prime Minister Julien Nkogue Bekale has defended the changes, stating that the government is facing economic difficulties.
Individuals in Gabon are advised to monitor developments to the situation and avoid all protests and demonstrations as a precaution.
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