Striking teachers and government in a stalemate

Sarah Raslan, Ahram Online, Wednesday 21 Sep 2011

As Egypt's teachers' strike enters its fifth day, educators show no sign of backing down as the government claims they have no money

Teachers strike
Teachers march to cabinet, 10 September 2011(Photo by Mai Shaheen)

While Egypt’s educators show no signs of slowing down or compromising their demands, the Egyptian government said that finances needed to fulfill the demands of the striking teachers are unavailable.

Prime Minister Essam Sharaf said yesterday that meeting the demands of 1.5 million teachers along with 6 million other public servants will be a difficult task for his government to accomplish.

The prime minister added that he is in constant communication with minister of education, Ahmed Gamal El-Din Moussa in an effort to resolve the teachers’ grievances, with the ultimate goal of bringing the strike to an end.

"I was waiting for the prime minister to respect the wishes and demands of the teachers,"  Raafat Abo-Nayil, an English teacher at El-Waraq High School, told Ahram Online.

"I was hoping he would announce a time table in which the government would fulfill our demands. It does not have to be instantaneous, he could say the demands will be met within five months or one year. That would have been enough for us. And it is not too late for him to say this," Abo-Nayil said. 

With the strike entering its fifth day, teachers continue to boycott classes and organize street protests across the country to demand a living wage.

Some teachers in the Gharbiya governorate in the Delta region have started a hunger strike to send a message to Sharaf yesterday.

Teachers are also reaching out to parents to support their cause.

For example, at El-Orman School in the Dokki district in Cairo, teachers held a lively rally and called on parents and passer bys to support their demands.

“Oh, parents and guardians come and join our strike today. Lord, please feel our pain,” the teachers chanted.

Educators from across the country are planning to meet in Cairo  this Saturday to march on the cabinet’s headquarters, located in Kasr El-Nil Street near Tahrir square. 

With the first week of school coming to an end, and no lessons to be learned, Egypt’s young generation continue to sit back and watch as the young post-revolution country begins to shape itself. 

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