Egypt’s first national teachers’ strike since 1951 has seen strong support from schools across the country, despite threats from the government and reports of harassment of striking teachers by the security forces.
Teachers’ main demands are the resignation of the education minister, a senior figure in the former ruling party, and improvements in wages and conditions. A striking teacher from Fayyum in the video above says “I have been working for 28 years as a teacher, and I earn less than 1000 Egyptian pounds a month. The Education ministry is stuffed full of consultants on huge salaries and teachers get nothing. It is not right that there are people earning 100,000 Egyptian pounds while teachers are paid so little.”
The strike has been organised by grassroots teachers’ organisations, particularly the new independent teachers’ unions which have been organising local strikes for months. Other demands include an increase in the state education budget to at least 6.5% of GDP, a school-building programme and a reduction in class sizes to no more than 30 children (60+ is common, and class sizes can reach up to 120).
Reports just in Monday 19 September included details of a solidarity protest by school students in Mahalla al-Kubra, with students chanting ‘the teachers want the downfall of the minister’, 11 schools shut down in Wadi al-Gadid, 49 in Aswan, 16 in Luxor, 29 in Minya, 26 in Sohag, and all schools shut in Minufiyya governorate. These are figures gathered by activists on the ground, rather than a complete picture, but they give a sense of how wide the geographical spread of action is across the country.
Send messages of support for the teachers’ strike to the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions at firstname.lastname@example.org and please copy to email@example.com