Monday, February 1, 2010


On 1st January 2010 Gabon learned a new phrase: la journée continuée. Until that date the country had followed the French work schedule: from 8 am to 12:45 pm and from 2:30 pm to 6 pm. At the school, I would start classes at 8 am and finish at 5:30, with a long 3-hour lunch break in the middle.

One of the first changes introduced by the new government was to change the working schedule. It is now compulsory to start at 7:30 and finish at 3:30pm, with no lunch break. More or less the Polish way, give or take thirty minutes. What pressing need led the government to act on the matter with such energy? Nobody knows but in general I can't say I mind. It means that I now have my first class as early as 7:30 but I finish at 12:45 and have the whole afternoon to myself (plus the school managed to squeeze my classes into three days and I have Monday off!). So, in general, the change is for better.

However, it wouldn't be Africa if the transition from one system to another didn't cause any chaos. On the one hand, the obligatory timetable change, experienced also by my school, does not in any way solve the parents' dilemma: who will pick their children up from school at 12:45, if all parents work until 3:30? On the other hand, some international insitutions, which in general work according to their headquarter's schedule (so, for instance, the EU Delegation will follow Brussels' timetables), must now face a ridiculous situation: all local employees (drivers, secretaries, etc.) are obliged to work in line with the new Gabonese regulation, while the international staff stick to the European working hours. In practice it means that your secretary will go home at 3:30 whether you need her or not, and you must work until 6pm. Moreover, your secretary will be at work at midday (hopefully catching up on some due tasks), while you have your lunch at home.

Confusing? Inefficient? So what else is new...?

1 comment:

  1. Good Morning ... I wanted to introduce myself ... my wife and I live in Libreville. We work with primary care medicine. I was wondering about your story, how you got to Gabon and what you are doing there. I think I saw that you were teaching English ... I have need to find a language school so that one of my collegues can learn french. Do you have any contacts? Look forward to hearing from you - my e-mail is and our names are Tim and Meredith Brokopp.