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Mauritius Media at a Glance: 21 August 07


Yesterday 20 August, there were two separate meetings regarding the problems that have come up because of the misguided attempts of the University of Mauritius administration to reduce its budgetary expenses. Presumably the two meetings were organised in response to a sit-in threat by students. In the middle of the day, there was a meeting between the full UOM administration moguls sitting high up on the Octave Wiehe stage, and a student-packed auditorium; and in the afternoon, Minister Gokhool finally made an appearance in the present crisis, when he had a meeting with Student Union members. As can be expected, both meetings were extensively covered by the MBC in its 7.30 News. So what did the MBC news editor tell us about the results of the two meetings: "All back to normal: compromise has been reached."

But around the same time, on Monday evening, the L'Express paper was preparing to go to print. So what is today's headline in that daily? "UNIVERSITE : L'impasse". In other words, total deadlock!

But we all remember how since the UOM budgetary problems became public months ago (incidentally a scoop for the L'Express), that newspaper has consistently tried to provoke some form of crisis on the campus. Sometimes the editorials have even blamed the students for acting like sheep, instead of raising hell. We should equally remember that for years, the present Director of the DCDM private and paying university has been a regular columnist in the same L'Express paper.

So now the paper is campaigning for the State-run UOM to start charging tuition fees, like at private universities: the famous level-playing field that successive Governments of Mauritius have committed themselves to at WTO Services liberalisation negotiations (GATS).

The L'Express newspaper has a very definite political and ideological agenda that includes the privatisation of services like education and health: this involves making government services under the Welfare State paying through some form of "targeting" in the first place, discrediting the quality of free state services, and preparing the terrain for local and international private investments in profit motivated Universities and Clinics.