Start of school year delayed indefinitely

By Libya Herald reporter.

Benghazi, 14 October 2017:

Teachers’ representatives and officials from the education ministry meeting in Benghazi today agreed to postpone the start of the school year indefinitely until the teachers’ grievances are settled and the strike is over.

Schools were supposed to start tomorrow, Sunday. The date has been rescheduled twice. Initially the new academic year was to have begun in September but with no progress on the teachers’ demands, it was put back, first, to 1 October, then to 15 October.

The teachers have want salaries to be doubled, that they be provided with healthcare insurance like other professional groups in the country, and that there is security in schools.

Although Benghazi and the rest of the east supposedly comes under the authority of the interim government of Abdullah Al-Thinni based in Beida, it is the Tripoli-based education ministry under the authority of the Presidency Council (PC) which is doing the negotiating. That is because the Central Bank of Libya in the capital, which pays the salaries of all teachers – in the east, west and south – is tied to the PC. The Thinni administration’s parallel central bank has almost no money or no control over anything.

On Wednesday, Tripoli education minister Osman Abdul Jalil proposed paying teachers a bonus for every class they taught: LD 12 for every class in kindergartens and primary school and LD 15 per class for secondary school teachers. He also offered health insurance and guards in schools.

The teachers have rejected the pay package as unfair and are sticking to their original demands.

They have meanwhile condemned a statement from the Awqaf authority linked to the Beida government which condemned their strike as haram. Teachers were not allowed to disrupt education by strikes, sit-ins or protests. Education, it said, was a pillar of society.

The General Union of Teachers has responded saying that they have the legal right to strike, and that the authority is twisting facts when it accuses them of violating the law.

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