Youth and Student Unions

Algeria Table of Contents

The FLN formed the National Union of Algerian Students (Union Nationale des Étudiants Algériens--UNEA), but party directives had less impact on the UNEA than on other FLN-influenced bodies such as the UGTA. The student union was quite active throughout the 1960s despite government attempts to quell the movement. Strikes, boycotts, and other violent clashes between student groups and government officials continued to upset numerous university campuses until the union was suppressed and dissolved in 1971. The student movement was subsequently absorbed into the more docile National Union of Algerian Youth (Union Nationale de la Jeunesse Algérienne--UNJA), a national conglomerate of youth organizations controlled by the FLN. The UNJA was the only youth group to be recognized officially in the list of national associations enumerated in the National Charter of 1976.

Despite a brief surge of student demonstrations in the late 1970s, the UNJA leadership has increasingly met with apathy and a lack of interest on the part of both high school and university students--in part because of the existence of a number of local organizations that parallel UNJA activities. Most of the UNJA's roster in 1993 did not consist of students.

As has been true for most other elements of civil society, FLN has dominance translated into a greater emphasis on party propaganda and mobilization than on the association's own objectives. Implementing these objectives a posed challenge to the student union leadership. Union leaders face a disillusioned constituency--students who upon completing years of education cannot find jobs, masses of impoverished and unemployed youth with little confidence in distant authorities, and youth without nostalgia for the War of Independence they are too young to remember. When the population exploded onto the streets in October 1988, it was the students who were the first to organize and who made up the bulk of demonstrators in the six days of rioting.

More about the Government and Politics of Algeria.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress