As the new school term starts across Egypt tens of thousands of teachers are on strike. They are demanding:
- The resignation of the Education Minister, a leading figure in Mubarak’s old ruling party
- Improvements in their pay – they want £164 per month guaranteed without having to do additional out-of-hours tuition.
- An increase in the state education budget to at least 6.5% of GDP
- A school-building programme
- A reduction in class sizes to no more than 30 children (60+ is common, and class sizes can reach up to 120).
As part of the emergent independent trade union federation their organisation is a popular and democratic movement from below, seeking unity with the communities they serve. Teachers want a properly-funded education system for all Egyptian children, not just those who can afford private tuition.
Yet like their striking brothers and sisters in textile, sugar, shipping, post, transport, civil service and health industries, Egypt’s teachers face the wrath of an army council which outlaws their words and deeds. According to Egyptian human rights groups, up to 12,000 civilians have been jailed after military trials since the revolution began. Officials in the new independent teachers’ union said on Sunday that striking teachers were facing harassment from the security forces.
Egypt’s teachers now deserve explicit international solidarity from everyone who has welcomed the Arab spring.
Bob Petersen President Milwaukee Teachers’ Education Association (Wisconsin, USA); Therese Quinn Art Institute of Chicago, USA; Katy Clark, MP (UK); Dr. Patricia Walker University of East London (UK); Dr. John Chalcraft London School of Economics (UK); National Union of Teachers (UK) officers: Mary Compton Past president; Dave Harvey Croydon branch and NEC; Nick Grant Ealing branch and NEC; Jane Basset Hackney; Barry Conway Bolton; Ken Muller Islington; Jess Edwards Lambeth; Ben Morris Sheffield; Sally Kincaid Wakefield; Sara Tomlinson Lambeth; Doug Morgan Birmingham; University and Colleges Union officers (UK): Mark Campbell London; Shirley Franklin London; Jon Berry Hertfordshire; James Eaden Chesterfield; Mark Bergfeld National Union of Students
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