Civil society throws weight behind striking teachers
Dozens of schools have been closed in 19 provinces, including Kabul, after teachers of these schools went on strike three days ago, demanding an increase in salaries, cut in duty timing and other facilities including land plots to build homes.
On Thursday, a large number of civil society activists and students held a gathering at Habibia High School in Kabul. The gathering was attended by civil society activists, youth representatives, students, university teachers and members of academic foundations.
Speaking at the gathering, leader of the civil society group that arranged the gathering, Mohmmad Khalid Ramzi, said: “It is unfortunate that the voice of our dear teachers could not be heard during the past one decade.”
He asked how they could expect better future for their children when their teachers worked under tough conditions and in the absence of basic facilities.
President Ashraf Ghani had directed provincial governors to arrange land plots for teachers over the next six months and hand over the plots to the Ministry of Education.
A teacher at the Habibia High School, Shamsullah Haqqani, told the gathering: “I wonder why the government leaders make promises which they cannot fulfill. Not fulfilling a promise is a big sin.” He said only promises had been made with teachers during the past 14 years.
He said the president had promised he would increase salaries of teachers, but he could not do so during the past eight months. The teacher said so far 32 schools had been closed due to teachers’ strike in provinces, including Kabul.
Lawmaker Ramazan Bashardost told the gathering that advisors and other high-ranking officials had been hired against huge salaries, but what they did for the masses.
He said the teacher community had been ignored over the past 14 years. He asked the president and the chief executive officer to explain where from salaries of their advisors came.
The gathering issued a statement that said the level of education could not be increased until teachers’ legitimate demands were met. It said civil society and teachers would continue their protest until promises made by the government with teachers were not honoured.
The statement said salaries of teachers should be increased as promised and called as against the teaching system 18 to 30 hours teaching duration per week.
Education Ministry spokesman Haqmal said the ministry officials during a meeting with the protesting teachers had promised to resolve their problems which fell in the jurisdiction of the ministry.
He said they supported the teachers’ call for cut in the duration of teaching time, but said some teachers had been asked to teach beyond the stipulated time because less number of teachers taught a growing number of students.
He said the Kabul Education Department had been directed to reduce the teaching time through the commission concerned.
Haqmal said the education minister had shared all problems of the teachers with the president, who had promised action to resolve their problems.
Presenting his ministry’s 100-day plan, Education Minister Asafullah Hanif Balkhi said the protesting teachers’ demands which concerned education would be met and their other demands relating to other departments would be followed.
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