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REBORN TO SELF THROUGH THE OTHER OR WORK CLOSER TO REAL

By Salim MOKADDEM Special Advisor to the President of the Republic of Niger, responsible for the Education Unit of the Presidency.



Year 2 of the BAZOUM Presidency in more than one way is a very important qualitative moment to assess the general policy of the Head of State and to take stock of the work announced in the President's general policy statement. Salim MOKADDEM, Special Advisor to the President of the Republic of Niger, Head of the Education Unit at the Presidency sheds light on the efficiency, resilience and promising vision of a strategic sector at the heart of the priorities of the first five-year term which has just complete his 2 years.



Satisfaction with the YEAR 2 balance sheet

Indeed, and this has been well described by government actors and members of the executive: in the industrial, energy, infrastructure, economic and financial, medical sectors, in those of justice, health, education , security and defence, culture, youth, sports, the results are positive and quantitatively satisfactory in terms of measures of progress, development and growth.

The Renaissance act 3 keeps its promises and the course is well maintained on the inclusion of Niger in the regional, sub-regional and international concert of Nations and economies. We can therefore say that Niger has started its entry into globalization in a performative way and the various technical indicators of the quantitative type clearly demonstrate this. However, if we do not want to fall into the formal illusion of illiberal performance, it is not enough to carry out an econometrics of social progress through political action and to measure the rise of Niger by the classic indicators of economics. Western economy (HDI, GDP, sectoral development indices, and other accounting reports aimed at reassuring donors and diverting the gaze from the real to the speculative imagination) to measure, in a quantitative and somewhat formal way, the socio-economic development of Niger. Commodity fetishisms, in certain political and financial circles, are often carried by Number fetishes. The fact remains that the progress report is highly encouraging and encouraged by the technical and financial partners and that the Renaissance III government policy is reflected in positive indicators and significant progress in the socio-political and social fields. that it is committed to advancing according to the imperatives of inclusive growth and improvement of the well-being of the populations of Niger.


The various general and technical directorates of the ministries have done admirably and brilliantly the apology, and even the apologetics of these Herculean works carried out by the Bazoum Presidency. Indeed, in all the technical fields, the actions have been identified in referenced and quantitatively established reports in order to take stock of the government's budgetary investments and the concrete achievements made "on the ground".

On the educational level, for example, the indicators and statistical measures of the schooling rate, retention in the cycle and the school level, the rate of construction of school buildings, have been very accurately and precisely communicated to the general public, to the institutions authorities, to technical and financial partners for purposes of budget transparency, progress report, controls by the highest authorities of the State, and also for panegyric purposes, advocacy, potential requests and defense and illustration of the President's policy.


National education statistics, published by the General Secretariat of the Ministry of National Education, and, in particular, by the Directorate of Statistics and the Promotion of Informatics, assisted by Unesco, Unicef, the European Union and the World Bank, show in great detail the remarkable advances in the educational sector of pre-school, primary and secondary education (first and second cycles) in a summary document to which I refer the reader (National Education Statistics Pocket Yearbook 2021-2022, 2022 edition, DSPI/MEN). In addition, the technical and financial partners have praised the fine performance of the Nigerien education system since the BAZOUM governance and it is important to underline the full mobilization and consensus of the civil and political forces in this crucial sector for the development of Niger.

Performance contract and support advocacy with donors

Let us give some statistical indicators to set the framework and present the dynamics put in place by this new educational policy in Niger: the pass rate for the secondary school certificate rose from 20.51% in 2021 to 27.18% in 2022 and that of the baccalaureate, which was 22.75% in 2021, increased to 28.95% in 2022; one out of two children attends primary school, despite the insecurity at the borders and in areas marked by terrorism, which is being reduced as a result of President Bazoum's effective and pragmatic policy; the 30,000 so-called “paillotes” schools will all be replaced in 2028 (at the rate of 6,000 per year on guaranteed national and international budgets) by school buildings that are safe and healthy in terms of hygiene and upgrading to standards for learning and quality teaching (school climate items promoting the educational success of all schoolchildren); funding acquired during the Side Event on Transforming Education in New York (UN, September 2022) of 100 girls' boarding schools by BADEA (50 are currently under construction).

''Niger's education budget has increased by 33% compared to 2022 and sovereign donors (World Bank, EU, UNESCO, etc.) are supporting advocacy and financial support in the education sector''

Niger's education budget has increased by 33% compared to 2022 and sovereign donors (World Bank, EU, Unesco, etc.) support advocacy and financial support in the education sector.

It is not a question of minimizing the real difficulties encountered by the actors of the education sector, of which the education unit of the Presidency of Niger and the Ministries concerned are well aware. Because the country is vast, insecurity persists, the water and climate shock is real, and, above all, the rural environment is poor and far from the “runoff” of development policies. In addition, the curricula are inchoate, the school map difficult to implement due to the geographical and human characteristics of the areas concerned, mainly in rural and semi-desert areas, and the world is experiencing an unprecedented crisis which is impacting West Africa. the West and Niger in particular because of the conflicts of Empire between the powerful of this world. Niger is a flower of the field on the battleground of the giants of this world; and the daisy is always wrong under the boot of armies on the move. This is why it is urgent to return to fundamentals in terms of educational policy, in particular, to put in place a policy of cultural awareness in order to encourage young people to take the question of training (general, technical and professional) continuous and permanent so that they become aware that education is a real and effective force of empowerment and sovereignty for Niger.

“The educational policy of the President of the Republic of Niger goes through very concrete projects and above all through material achievements and socio-economic practices improving the daily lives of Nigeriens”

The use of renovated didactic sciences in order to improve teaching (and learning) practices, the institutionalization of an inclusive school in all sectors of its process and its territorial establishment. We must obviously not neglect these crucial points concerning the problems encountered by those involved in the field of education: the high birth rate in Niger, the coefficient multiplication of pupils, the still insufficient gross enrollment rates, the educational innovations to be pursued, illiteracy remnants of families, inequalities between the distribution of wealth between cities and the countryside, the still too high illiteracy of rural populations, climatic shocks not taken into account by the authors of the Anthropocene, the vast geographical expanses of the Nigerien territory, the structural and toxic debt of the State, the multifaceted insecurity at the borders, the global uncertainties linked to the movement of fiduciary values ​​and world economies weakened by the new configurations of the circuits of the value chains of the products and raw materials, all of this has an impact on Niger's educational political will and on the actions taken by the ministries concerned. President Bazoum is very aware of this; With its technical and political teams, it has initiated reforms in teacher training, teacher recruitment, the securing of exams and competitions, the level of trainers and the quality of supervisors. He knows that it is more than important and urgent to make education the essential engine of growth and the construction of Niger.


President Mohamed Bazoum knows this as a teacher, philosopher, and skilled politician and observer of the items of progression and growth in the world: the USA, China, India, the EU, are great powers because 'they have developed powerful, continuous and intense education and training policies for a significant period of time and they have never, ever neglected the budgeting of research and development. Education is the backbone of all development and it has indisputable pan-sectoral effects: on the production of values, the consumption of products, technological innovation, well-being and social well-being, health, material comfort, societal organization, the efficiency of the administration, the ethical level of citizens and the business climate. These indices may seem immaterial and abstract, but they are very concrete and visible in the improvement of the standard of living and the daily life of the populations. Agriculture, the management of water stocks, for example, requires a completely technical and conceptual type of rationality that cannot be imagined, and even less produced, by a permanent and empirical tinkering of local resources and know-how, be they pragmatic and leading to food self-sufficiency. These indices may seem immaterial and abstract, but they are very concrete and visible in the improvement of the standard of living and the daily life of the populations. Agriculture, the management of water stocks, for example, requires a completely technical and conceptual type of rationality that cannot be imagined, and even less produced, by a permanent and empirical tinkering of local resources and know-how, be they pragmatic and leading to food self-sufficiency. These indices may seem immaterial and abstract, but they are very concrete and visible in the improvement of the standard of living and the daily life of the populations. Agriculture, the management of water stocks, for example, requires a completely technical and conceptual type of rationality that cannot be imagined, and even less produced, by a permanent and empirical tinkering of local resources and know-how, be they pragmatic and leading to food self-sufficiency.

The titanic challenge of strengthening human capital

The qualitative leap is necessary if we want to move from a poor and indebted State to a politico-administrative organization leading to development and growth measured according to yardsticks and indicators more in touch with the sociological and demographic realities of the Niger. We can always pay for words and make plans on the comet: all the countries of the world must go through the educational phase and fight against illiteracy and illiteracy to become modern nation-states and initiate united, developed economies. and inclusive. Niger's education policy is supported by at least three central ministries (national education, higher education and research, vocational and technical training); next to that, international actors (multilateral and bilateral cooperation and development) act convincingly and effectively in terms of budgetary and technical support following Niger's various pleas (PDES, Paris, 2022; Side events at the UN, New York, 2022, among others), no less than friendly countries who have understood the interest of investing in Niger in human capital and educational resources. The added value of educational structures are not simply investments for the future for companies and sectors in the process of industrialization in Niger (agro-industrial and mining, energy and oil sectors), but they have an extremely significant impact on the lives in all moments of daily life (travel, catering, housing, health, nutrition, health protection, urbanization, etc. ) and they directly concern all social strata.


Education, in its democratic and republican aims, produces improvements in civic behavior and habits, ways of doing, of acting, of consuming, of producing, of living which directly and indirectly develop the standard of living of Nigerian society. Thus, education percolates in all sectors of life: it is made invisible because national and extra-national actors are too accustomed to identifying it in the school thing reduced to academic reality and the doxa has a habit of reducing learning to valences academic, to the scholastic skills acquired through summative and certifying assessments. But, the impact and the nature of the educational fact are holistic, systemic, reticular and universal.

The School, in the sense of the academic thing, therefore exceeds in its aims and its praxis the simple field of school learning because it makes it possible to concretize a way of being and of living which transforms the subjects, the social actors, the behaviors, ways of being, in activities that produce meaning and actions that always have impacts in the most immediate economic fabric. Thus, the education of young girls, adolescents, in Niger, through separate and single-sex establishments, boarding schools thought of as incubators of social, axiological, psychosocial, family, cognitive subjectivities, have effects of subjectivation, self transformation, young girls and adolescents in such a way that the women in the making that they are in fact will ask themselves differently the question of mastering their bodies, their becoming mothers, their couple and their nuclear family, thanks to social time of reflection and reflexivity that the boarding school allows, by cutting them off from alienating and inhibiting domestic tasks in terms of the logic of learning and self-development, to make them available, free, to learn and to reflect critically and in a citizens to their destiny, which they must transform into existential history and historical truth, based on the instruction and education they will have received in boarding schools.


Obscurantism is always a negative agent of delay in practical emancipations and fundamental alienation. In this same spirit, it is urgent that the teachers of Niger, and their supervisors, trainers, ask themselves questions in terms of active methods, teamwork, knowledge sharing, innovative techniques in teaching. In this sense, the questions and themes relating to differentiated assessments, knowledge and practices of digital tools, situations of skills repositories and the various applications of acquisitions in terms of technical, didactic and disciplinary capacity building, must be the subject of innovative training and on-site workshops in demonstration schools, professional training sites, renewed educational training workshops. The educational sciences of the previous century must be reviewed in the light of scientific progress, uses of information and communication technologies, educational platforms (MOOC style) and neuropedagogies. The debate has been initiated here and there about artificial intelligence and Chat GPT, and in particular, by researchers at MIT in the USA and by thinkers of educational innovation in Africa and Europe.

''Niger is fortunate to have a visionary, ambitious president, realistic about the means and ends of his ambition, and very lucid about the educational intelligence to be put in place in the schools of the Nigerien territory''

Niger is fortunate to have a visionary, ambitious President, realistic about the means and ends of his ambition, and very lucid about the pedagogical intelligence to be put in place in the schools of the Nigerien territory, vast and harsh, austere and ungrateful, in terms of geography and climate. It is not he who will object to the lack of means (we have always seen him react very quickly on questions of training and qualified recruitment of teachers) or the slowness necessary for the construction of peoples and their history; in this field, a political philosophy should not ignore the realistic and principled vision of the educational logics to be implemented as soon as possible. For example, questions concerning the learning of science and language, vocational and technical training, skills to be acquired at level 1 and 2 of the Ministry of National Education, are not options that should be subject to endless speculation. School buildings must meet material requirements (safety, durability, comfort, didactic usefulness) and certain educational purposes: all students must be able to be seen and questioned by teachers in safe conditions. decent work. It is not a question of making hutches for pupils as one makes hutches for rabbits: we must not proletarianize teachers and pupils and forget that the school climate also concerns the quality of infrastructures, habitats ( clarity of the class, luminosity, various ventilation, etc.) student materials. Too many constructions are still made in a quantitative and not qualitative sense: we don't learn in the same way in a class in thatched hut, in concrete, in semi-hard, and built, carried out, according to a singular plan taking into account the activities of the pupils in the class. The movements of teachers and students, the locations and locations of walls designed as didactic learning supports, power outlets allowing the use of digital tools, the place of ventilation and openings for the purposes of sanitary comfort and material well-being, waste water evacuation, discreet and practical latrines, etc., all of this must be the subject of studies and, above all, of architectural proposals, of innovative constructions and above all adapted to the activities pupils and their needs in physiological and pedagogical terms. in semi-hard, and built, carried out, according to a singular plan taking into account the activities of the pupils in the class. The movements of teachers and students, the locations and locations of walls designed as didactic learning supports, power outlets allowing the use of digital tools, the place of ventilation and openings for the purposes of sanitary comfort and material well-being, waste water evacuation, discreet and practical latrines, etc., all of this must be the subject of studies and, above all, of architectural proposals, of innovative constructions and above all adapted to the activities pupils and their needs in physiological and pedagogical terms. in semi-hard, and built, carried out, according to a singular plan taking into account the activities of the pupils in the class. The movements of teachers and students, the locations and locations of walls designed as didactic learning supports, power outlets allowing the use of digital tools, the place of ventilation and openings for the purposes of sanitary comfort and material well-being, waste water evacuation, discreet and practical latrines, etc., all of this must be the subject of studies and, above all, of architectural proposals, of innovative constructions and above all adapted to the activities pupils and their needs in physiological and pedagogical terms.

The second phase of the educational policy must not only be the recitation of useful achievements in terms of buildings and public works, but also qualitative indicators of success to precisely validate the material choice of buildings (question of the school climate) and the institutional choice of school buildings (equal opportunities and school inclusion policy for all children and adolescents in Niger). In addition, the fact of acquiring a modern press and printing press adapted to the needs of Niger's educational policies, which are sovereign in the educational and pedagogical field, has resulted in a courageous and necessary reform of the textbook publishing sector. education in the different disciplines that make up the school curricula.

It is important now that the media, the written press, social networks, digital and digital players, the middle classes, intellectuals, students, teachers, also include in their discussions, their productions , their daily relations, the concrete elements of the real culture of the populations, which are lacking in the apparatuses and institutions responsible for promoting them.

There is a time for ideological diatribes, a time for ad hominem polemics, a time to edify and build, to consolidate and move forward, and a time to innovate and individualize oneself in one's political actions so as to enshrine in a lasting and the positive, indisputable and uncontested advances of President Mohamed Bazoum, and in particular, to highlight the reasons for the relevance of his actions in the field of his educational policy.

''Education is the great project of the 21st century for Africa and for Niger in particular''

I think that education is the great project of the 21st century for Africa and for Niger in particular. It is a question of betting on the civilization of intelligence against that of the nihilism of calculation and the destructive profit of diverse and synergistic collectives. We choose to refuse a wait-and-see and nihilistic resignation and we believe that Niger, as a young country from all points of view, with its potential economy and its visions of a horizon of peace and human and material construction, despite the natural and historical obstacles it has suffered and which still largely obstruct its growth, Niger reveals by its resilience and its progress that it is a country vector of civilization, democratic freedoms and indisputable human values.


Interview Confidential Africa / May-June 2023



CA-MAI-JUIN2023 SMOKADDEM
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