Teachers on strike, a million students affected
Over the past two weeks, dozens of schools in Kabul and many provinces have been closed down. The protesting teachers are seeking increments and resolution of their housing problem.
While accusing President Mohammad Ashraf Ghani of failing to keep his promise to allot residential plots to them, the teachers’ strike has left Isteqlal, Habibia, Sardar Kabuli, Mehrabuddin, Ghazi Ade, Abdul Ali Mustaghni, Guzargah, Aqa Ali Shams, Amani and Breshnakot schools shut.
Mohammad Khalid Ramzi, a civil society activist, told Pajhwok Afghan News around one million students had been left without lessons due to the teachers’ strikes.
He said 840,000 students were from 83 schools in Kabul while the remaining from other provinces. Officials of the education ministry had been trying to pressure teachers into calling off their strike, he alleged.
Humayoun Pajhman, a teacher at Habibia High School, told the Senate (Meshrano Jirga) more than 80 schools had been closed in Kabul city. He warned their strike would continueas long as their demands were not met.
Shah Hakim Lami, another teacher, said Sardar Kabuli and Abdul Ali Mustaghni Schools’ staffers had been forced to reopen their schools by education ministry officials.
Other schools, he said, continued their strikes. Habibia High School has 300 teachers and 10,000 students.
Maria, principal of Guzargah Girls’ School, acknowledged her school and Sultan Razia and Aqa Ali Shams schools had been openeddue to pressure from the ministry. “We don’t want student to wander on streets and that is why we opened the schools. But our strike continues and no teacher goes to classes.”
Shamsullah Hoshmand, student at Habibi High School, said: “It has been two weeks that we are off and no one is teaching us.” With mid-term exams 45 days away, the strikemay create hardships for students. He urged the government to resolves the teachers’ grievances.
Hoshmand, a 9th class student, said if the strike continued, many schoolboys would join street children or become drug addicts.
Education MinisterAssadullah Hanif Balkhitold Pajhwok last week: “We haven’t been indifferent toward teachers’ demands. They had these problems before but, unfortunately, nobody had paid any attention to them.”
Kabir Haqmal, the education ministry spokesman, said not a large number of schools had been shut due to the strike. However, he did not present any figures. Out of 217,000 teachers in the country 85,000 have received residential plots.
Last week, Haqmal recalled, 324 teachers were allotted land plots in the Istalef district of Kabul and they planned to distribute 500 more plots in Deh Sabz.He said the process would continue but the housing problem would not be resolved soon.
The education ministry said raising teachers’ wages was beyond its authority and ability. The teachers working overtime would be given extra payments, a spokesman for the ministry said.
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