Teachers in Egypt have been protesting outside the Ministry of Education demanding to be put on permanent contracts.
The practice of hiring teachers on short term contracts has been widespread in Egypt and nothing much has changed since the time of the Mubarak dictatorship which was overthrown by the uprisings in 2011, in which teachers played a prominent role.
As we reported in 2012: Under the Mubarak dictatorship, education spending was steadily run down, partly at the behest of the IMF. This situation persists, as does the fact that more and more money is extracted from the poor to fund public schools. This takes the form of fees extracted from parents for books and even building maintenance, but most especially from institutionalised systems of private tuition, which bring in money for the management, as well as supplementing teachers’ salaries.
Teachers on permanent contracts earn between $65 and $115 a month in regular salary. The majority of teachers however are on temporary contracts and they earn up to $16 a month – some earn nothing at all – on the basis that they will obtain the money for survival by taking private tuition lessons at the end of the school day. These lessons, which are more or less compulsory, can have twenty plus students per teacher and those who cannot pay, cannot attend. This situation forces teachers – themselves poor – to become the oppressors of other poor people who typically pay twenty per cent of their incomes for their children’s education. It is a form of insidious privatisation which enables the state to cut education budgets and offload its constitutional responsibility onto teachers and the poor.
The Mubarak government was replaced first by a repressive Muslim Brotherhood regime under Morsi and now by the rule of the army under Sisi, which is carrying out violent and repressive measures against any kind of dissent. Just as teachers stood up to Mubarak and formed an independent teaching union in 2010, despite the ever-present threat of the security forces, so now teachers are once again demanding justice.
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