Teachers in Egypt have staged a demonstration in Cairo, demanding the resignation of the education minister Moheb Al-Refa’ai.
The teachers are campaigning for decent pay – at present the minimum wage for teachers is $150 a month. However many earn much less than that if they are on temporary contracts, and are expected to make up their pay by giving private lessons. The protesters are also demanding that the government hires more teachers on permanent contracts. They are also fighting for an increase in the overall budget for education and an end to privatisation.
The teachers’ union is under ‘judicial supervision’ because of allegations that members of the Muslim Brotherhood are in the union. The state has agents in all schools to monitor the union, as the general secretary of the Independent Teachers Union (ISTT), explained in an interview for this website. Moreover a new civil service law means that teachers’ labour rights have been attacked and managers will be able to fire teachers at will.
The protest took place on September 10th which is Teachers’ Day in Egypt. Union leaders say that if their demands are not addressed within a week they will go on strike. Teachers and students were in the forefront of the fight for democracy which culminated in the so-called Arab Spring. However many of the gains won then have been lost, the present government came in through a coup on the back of the unpopularity of the repressive Morsi administration. Since that time the country has been ruled by a military government.
The teachers however are still fighting for democracy.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial License.