Egypt: International solidarity with the Egyptian teachers’ strike

Open letter in solidarity with Egyptian teachers

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.

Signatories

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

To add your name, email menasolidarity@gmail.com or send your own message of support via the Egyptian Federation of Independent Trade Unions eiuf2011@gmail.com

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