Parents of Tunisia students protest teacher strike

AFP , Friday 1 Feb 2019

Parents of Tunisian pupils clash with riot police during a demonstration against the general union of secondary education in Tunis, Tunisia February 1, 2019. (Photo: Reuters)

Hundreds of parents of Tunisian students gathered Friday in the capital to protest a teachers strike observed at schools across the country, calling for a return to regular classes.

For months a syndicate of secondary school teachers, affiliated with the country's powerful UGTT trade union which led two mass strikes in recent months, has been demanding wage hikes, bonuses and the implementation of previous deals reached with the government.

Strikes have repeatedly disrupted the Tunisian school year, with most teachers failing to conduct first term exams or give out grades.

They are hoping to pressure the government to return to negotiations with the union.

"The future of our children is a red line," the parents chanted.

"Teachers endanger the future of our children over very narrow interests and for a few dinars... what a shame," Hela Mejri, a 39-year-old mother of two high school students, told AFP.

With second trimester exams steadily approaching, the parents fear their children could go the entire school year without assessment.

High school students in several Tunisian cities have organised similar protests in recent weeks, demanding the resumption of regular classes.

Since the 2011 uprising, Tunisia's education sector has been repeatedly disrupted by protests and teachers strikes.

The North African country has been plagued by social conflict since the uprising, which was largely driven by poverty.

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