Primary teachers in Tunisia are to strike on April 15th, joining their secondary colleges who are already engaged in action.
As well as pay increases, the primary teachers have a list of demands, including lowering the age for retirement for those with long service, parity with colleagues in junior secondary education and the regularisation of teachers on temporary contracts. As well as this, teachers want to engage in dialogue about improving education in the country. Among the secondary teachers’ demands is a complete break from the curriculum under the dictatorship and the outlawing of physical attacks on schools and teachers.
Elections in Tunisia at the end of last year, brought in an administration with many elements of the old dictatorship under the ousted Ben Ali, including the leader of the party, who was a minister under Ali. The government is committed to ‘trying to curb state spending and reduce fiscal deficit as required by international lenders’. This translates into increased inflation as subsidies are reduced as well as worsening conditions in public services including schools. Many classes in the country are over 70 and the infrastructure is crumbling.
As well as fighting consistently for improvements in public education, the teachers were in the forefront of the movement which ousted Ali at the beginning of 2012. However despite that struggle, it seems that the forces of international capital, in the shape of the International Monetary Fund, are reasserting themselves and once again it is ordinary people who are suffering.
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