In Mali, AEEM must change or go

On Tuesday, December 19, at the Faculty of Science and Technology, clashes opposed two rival clans belonging to the powerful and sulfurous Mali Students’ Association (AEEM), undermined for some years by quarrels and internal rivalries. These clashes, which resulted in one death and several injuries, intervened in view of the renewal of the AEEM committee bureau of the said faculty. Something to revive the debate on the future of this student and school movement, which seems to have lost its raison d’être for many and whose dissolution is requested. If we don’t destroy the AEEM, it will destroy schools and universities, the critics of the student union seem to say.

In his book Être étudiant au Mali, published in 2016 at Editions La Sahelienne, Boubacar Sangaré, former collaborator of, called on the movement to a change of mentalities and to break with its line of current behavior which does not bode well for the future of the education system in Mali. We reproduce here, with the agreement of the author, this text extracted from his work [1].

«Not surprisingly, the coordinating bureau of the Mali Students’ Association (AEEM) is headed by a new secretary-general, whose election puts an end to the uncertainty that hovered the future of this shaken movement, not long ago, by person conflicts about the secretary-General’s chair. It is impossible not to say that an important step has just been taken and that, finally, the AEEM has denied the catastrophism to which some had given in announcing a deep deterioration of the situation within the movement.

But, we must be careful not to go fast. Get ourselves together! Because the assessment that has been made, since the AEEM changed hands, doesn’t allow to feed expectations. This is a movement whose leaders speak at every turn of change, but which still has in its ranks opportunists of all kinds. This is a movement of which some militants, of an incomparable voracity, still serve as a bridge to the students who failed the exam and wishing to buy the passage to the higher class. This is a movement that the bulk of militants (this also applies to militants who are in high schools, especially public) still pass the end of the year exam by the grace of the piston. This is a movement where you have to shine with your fierce taste for violence …

Yes, the AEEM is still there. To say it, to write it is to bring the leaders of the movement to awaken to the terrifying and sad realities that they contributed to create unconsciously or not. Realities that the AEEM must set out to prove that it intends to break with this line of behavior whose consequences today weigh crushingly on its image.

To put it simply, the AEEM must to turn to his fights, the real ones. A few months ago, a head of the administration of a university accused it of diversion in its fight: «Most often, they make strikes for small problems, while there are other problems much more important. I have never heard them complaining that there is a lack of classrooms or libraries». This is a reproach that movement leaders must appropriate to make their self-criticism, because one is really entitled to wonder about the reasons for the absence of a library worthy of the name in the different faculties, and the glaring insufficiency of classrooms there. And above all, especially the lack of teachers!

Moreover, it is worth noting that the students have nothing to do with a compelling general secretary, because to be at the head of a movement implies that it is necessary to exclude from one’s behavior one’s childhood dreams, to understand this delirium of wanting to lead according to one’s mood, one’s fantasies. It is time for the AEEM to change its features and think about a university and school spring by focusing on a change in mentalities, which is now the sole guarantor of the rehabilitation of the Malian higher education.

Its survival is suspended in a context where it is subject to a real disavowal of the overwhelming majority of students, who say they are fed up with an association that causes them to corrupt, brutalizes them for a yes, for a no and seems insensitive to the dumpers of difficulties that beset them.

This is the AEEM summoned to get itself together. Here it is, oriented in the direction in which the wind is blowing. It’s up to it to take advantage of it, at the risk of hardening itself and eventually breaking up …»

Boubacar Sangaré

[1] Etre étudiant au Mali, Boubacar Sangaré, La Sahélienne, 2016