Egyptian Teachers form Independent Union

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 Demonstration in Egypt

Some 5000 of Egypt's one million teachers have joined a new independent union

The oppostion newspaper Almasryalyoum reports that teachers are dissatisfied with their pay and conditions - a teacher's monthly salary is approximately $200, and classes typically have 80 to 90 children in them. Ashraf el-Hefny - a teacher for 17 years told Almasryalyoum “These low salaries show that the state doesn't care about education.”

According to Education International in its Education Barometer, in Egypt, "Collective bargaining is not adequately protected and is limited because the government sets wages, benefits and job classifications in the public sector. The government considers strike action a form of public disturbance and therefore illegal under an emergency decree dating from 1981". Moreover the government controls what is taught in schools down to the writing and/or banning of text books.

For this reason the official teachers union is closely allied to the government. According to the Almasryalyoum article:

' “It is the most important of Egypt’s 24 professional unions,” said Amani Qandil, executive director of the Arab Network for NGOs and expert on Egyptian professional syndicates. “It has a huge number of members who, if they ever turned against the government, could potentially launch a revolution.”

'For this reason, the government has always kept a close eye on the teachers union. Since 1956, noted Qandil, the syndicate has been headed by figures--usually associated with the Education Ministry--known for their loyalty to the ruling regime.'

Yet there has been strong opposition from teachers to government policies - most notably to a new law in 2007 which allowed government to hire and fire newly appointed teachers. And teachers have been involved in demonstrations and strikes against the Mubarek government (see previous posts). To read the Almasryalyoum article in full go to: http://www.almasryalyoum.com/en/news/school-teachers-form-egypts-2nd-independent-union

Egypt
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