Teachers strike in Cairo (Photo by: Mai Shaheen)
A historic national teachers' strike has entered its third day, with rising tensions and around-the-clock developments.
A labour-solidarity activist group which supports teachers and monitors strike activities across Egypt has estimated on e-socialists page on facebook and their Twitter account that the number of teachers striking in the governorate of Ismailia alone has exceeded 72,000 over the past three days.
More schools are also joining the strike in governorates across Egypt. The group has tweeted that 64 schools in the densely-populated governorate of Giza have joined the work stoppage today.
Estimates of teachers currently on strike vary dramatically between government and non-official sources.
The Egyptian Minister of Education stated on Saturday, the first day of school, that strikes took place in only 0.6 per cent of Egypt's schools. Yesterday's official estimates jumped to 2.6 per cent and reached 3.04 per cent by Monday.
In sharp contrast, the Union of Independent Syndicates has announced in a press release that its monitors estimate that 70 per cent of Egyptian schools are participating in the strike so far.
The Egyptian Minister of Education conducted a visit to one of Giza's functioning schools, where he stated that the minister has taken "big steps" to improve the teachers' financial conditions.
He also stated that "the vast majority of Egypt's teachers are fully aware of the importance of delivering the educational message."
The governor of Cairo has acknowledged the strike and conducted a meeting with representatives of the striking teachers to discuss their demands.
However, the governor has officially threatened striking teachers with prosecution on the basis of the anti-strike law which was passed last March following the January revolution in an attempt by the government to curb strike activities.