Postwar Recovery and Student Academic Freedom in Côte d’Ivoire

By Alfred Babo


This essay describes how the Ivorian government’s efforts to respond to the violent past of the country’s student unions have undermined student academic freedom during the Côte d’Ivoire’s postwar reconstruction. Since the 1990s, the student unions have used violent protests and riots on campuses as their main means to press for improvement of study and living conditions. They also have been involved in successive national political crises and conflicts. Following Côte d’Ivoire’s civil war of 2010–11, the new government sought to tackle the violence of student unions. State and university authorities implemented reforms aiming to rebuild Ivorian higher education by eliminating violence from universities. These efforts have met some success, but most of the measures also infringe students’ civil liberties, including freedom of speech. After describing the current postwar environment and the government’s strategies to revive Ivorian higher education, I provide the historical context of student violence in which the restrictive reforms have been undertaken. In the last section, I discuss how the implementation of these strategies impedes both student academic freedom and, likely, reconstruction in Côte d’Ivoire.

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