Thousands of Iranian Teachers Launch Third Strike Demanding Fair Pay, Universal Education
Education Minister Claims Strikers Wrongly Teaching Students How to Protest
Thousands of teachers went on strike throughout Iran for the third time in less than a year March 3-5, 2019, to demand fair pay, the release of their imprisoned colleagues and free, universal education.
“The most important reason for the strike is that the government does not feel obligated to implement Article 30 of the Constitution,” Javad La’l Mohammadi, an activist teacher based in the city of Mashhad, told the Center for Human Rights in Iran (CHRI) on March 5.
“Since there are a lot of teachers and students in the country, the government is tempted to hand over education to the private sector and turn schools into commercial entities… It’s breaking every teacher’s heart,” he added.
Article 30 of Iran’s Constitution states, “The government must provide all citizens with free education up to secondary school, and must expand free higher education to the extent required by the country for attaining self-sufficiency.”
Reacting to the strike, Minister of Education Mohammad Bathaei dismissed it as an action by only a “few” teachers and scolded the strikers for teaching students how to protest.
“The country has multiple needs that do not allow us to alleviate the heavy load on teachers’ livelihood in the short term and therefore we are using solutions that have not been tried before,” Bathaei told reporters on March 5.
“There have been protests in a few schools but even if teachers took action in just a single school in the country, that would be wrong for nurturing students,” he added. “I am not upset about the protest itself but the method because it teaches the students the wrong thing.”
The Iranian Teachers Unions Coordination Council, which had organized the strikes via its channel on the Telegram messaging app, responded by noting that on one day alone, teachers from more than 100 schools had participated.
“The nationwide strike by teachers ended Tuesday [March 5] with an inconsiderate statement by the Education Minister who claimed that only a few had participated in the action,” said the union.
“But the fact is that in Kermanshah alone, more than 100 schools were involved and in Khomeini Shahr more than 70,” it added.