Student leaders in Gabon are calling on all those who attend schools and universities to demonstrate on Monday in a protest they are calling, 'Movement to save the School.' Teachers at schools and universitites in the country have been on strike for the last six weeks. They are demanding allowances and bonuses which are owed to them. At present teachers in Gabon earn about $130 a month, as a result they find it difficult to make ends meet.

Students are being urged to go to their schools holding placards saying 'No to an aborted school year, no to the sacrifices of the youth and for the total satisfaction of the teachers' demands.' it is particularly brave of the students to organise the march, since in the past they have been attacked by the riot police of the country's dictator Ali Bongo. Commentators expect the police to be out in force on Monday.

Gabon's school students have a hisotry of marching in solidarity with their teachers. In a previous strike, one student who was interviewed said, 'There is a strike here because our teachers have not been paid and we want to show solidarity. Our teachers should be paid because they have to teach us.' This is a pretty obvious point, yet it is one which both governments in many parts of the global South as well as the World Bank seem to find hard to understand. Governments frequently fail to pay teachers a living wage and meanhile the World Bank advocates hiring temporary teachers on poverty pay and making even such pay and tenure dependent on 'performance'. 

Gabon has one of the highest average per capita incomes in Africa, yet a large proportion of the population is living in poverty, including teachers. Average life expectancy is only 52 years. It has rich mineral reserves, including oil and manganese but these are syphoned off partly by an elite group, led by Bongo and his coterie, who took over from his father as ruler of the country in 2009, and partly by global corporations. These bodies enjoy areas of the country where there is full tax exemption for ten years, 'relaxed' labour laws and energy at 50% of the price, which consumers have to pay. No wonder the US Central Intelligence Agency praises Bongo in its 'factbook' for, "taking steps to make Gabon a more attractive investment destination"

One commentator, speaking of the students' call to action on Monday, quoted a Spanish writer: 'You have to have indisciplined ones in order to make a people free and  lots of crazy youth to make a people heroic.' Both teachers and students are once against showing their heroism against a brutal dictator as they struggle to defend public education.