STUDENTS AND THE STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRACY IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA 1995-2005: WITH A FOCUS ON SENEGAL AND ZIMBABWE

Abstract : This thesis examines students as agents of political change in sub-Saharan Africa. It explores the extent to which students exercise political agency, and the ways in which opportunities for agency are shaped by historical and geographical circumstances. It is argued that in post-colonial Africa students are, in many respects, politically privileged actors. This is attributable to a host of factors including the relative weaknesses of other social groups; the cultural status of education; the small numbers who make it to university; their shared identity with political leadership; the need of the state for graduates and the nature of campus life. 1-lowever, structural factors intervene, shaping a wider political and economic context and the way students exercise agency. These processes are today associated with globalisation and related to the neo-liberal agenda of international financial institutions (IFIs); World Bank pressures on education systems and the role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs). Within these wider structural changes students do, however, exercise political agency to a varied extent. The two case studies in the thesis are based on interviews with leading student activists and archival research and focus on similar moments of political activism. In the late 1990s both Zimbabwe and Senegal under went important 'transitions'. In Zimbabwe it resulted in the formation of a mass party, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC), in 1999 after a period of widespread social protests. As the regime regained momentum after the formation of the MDC the 'transition' became increasingly frustrated. Student activists were involved in each stage of this political ferment. Although Senegal did not see mass mobilisation, the country experienced an important 'electoral transition'. The ruling Parti Soda/isle (PS) was overturned for the first time since independence in presidential elections in March 2000 by an opposition coalition. University students played a vital role in the changement polilique that shook Senegal during this period. By focusing on these moments of student activism the research shows how students shape and are shaped by national processes of political change and popular protest and have maintained a role as politically privileged actors.
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Isaac Leo Zeilig. STUDENTS AND THE STRUGGLE FOR DEMOCRACY IN SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA 1995-2005: WITH A FOCUS ON SENEGAL AND ZIMBABWE. Education. Department of Geography and Earth Sciences Brunel University, 2005. English. ⟨tel-01265010⟩

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