Madagascar Teachers demonstrating last Month
Teachers in Madagascar have been on strike for almost two months according to reports
The teachers who work in Madagascar's secondary schools and colleges are on strike for improved housing and other allowances which their union says are grossly inadequate to meet their needs. With inflation high in Madagascar, the teachers get less than $1 a month housing allowance - an amount which needs increasing to $46. The leader of the SEMPAMA teachers' union says that the derisory levels of remuneration make Madagascar's teachers, the most miserably paid of all public servants.
This week the union has rejected an offer of a 5% increase in allowances, which the union says the government can keep - it will carry on with its strike. In addition to striking, teachers have demonstrated in front of the education ministry, an area which they have christened 'La Place de 90 Ariary ($0.5)' - referring to their miniscule allowance.
Madagascar had been under the tutelage of the International Monetary Fund (IMF) until a political crisis in 2009 lead them to withdraw from the country. They enforced policies of privatisation and liberalisation, with the usual consequences of cuts to the public sector including education, under conditions where only 11% of Madagascar's children are enrolled in secondary education - one of the lowest figures in the world. From 2009 the IMF froze all aid to the country, putting further strain on public sector budgets. Meanwhile corporations are circling the island, with its potential rich pickings from oil, cobalt, nickel, gold and uranium deposits and tourism.
On Saturday, the disputed government of Andry Rajoelina threatened the striking teachers that if they did not return to work this week, their contracts would be terminated and their salaries stopped. Local authorities have been ordered to reopen the schools and take a register of the teachers turning up. The government is also proposing to hire substitute teachers to replace those on strike. The government has threatened the teachers with the security forces if they do not obey. A spokesperson for the teachers said: « Nous n'allons pas retourner en classe avec ces 5% de contre-proposition. Cette déclaration est la preuve que le ministre souhaite le conflit dans le pays. Au lieu de négocier, il sème la terreur
». (We will not return to work with this 5% offer. This declaration [from the government] is the proof that the minister is hoping for conflict in the nation. Instead of negotiation, he is sowing terror). Teachers have promised parents and students, worried about their children's exams that they will complete them as soon as their demands are met.
Solidarite aux enseignants de Madagascar!