On 24 September 2011, Egyptian teachers’ unions organized a well-attended march from Tahrir Square to the Cabinet. This event was arranged in the continuation of Egyptian teachers’ general strike, which was carried out during the entirety of last week. During the past week, the transitional government has used the usual dirty propaganda tricks to provoke the most backward part of society and to cultivate reactionary opinion.
Under the pressure of radical and widespread strikes and protests all over Egypt, it seems that the transitional government is becoming more desperate than ever in its fear of losing control. It is therefore preparing the ground for a more violent crackdown on the revolutionary movement. Among these preparations are the court-martialing of political activists and workers, imprisoning them and threatening others; prosecution; imprisonment; and declaring workers’ strikes illegal, thereby criminalizing them. Yet the desperation of the government is clearly evident behind this Mubarak-style propaganda. It should not be forgotten that the transitional government, which regulates its relation to the revolutionary movement according to the emergency laws of the Mubarak era, was from this point of view interesting for Western governments. It was believed that this transitional government, with the help of such illusions like “the army is our brother and is on our side,” “it is time for tranquility,” and “the coming election will solve everything,” had declared the revolution finished and suffocated.
But workers’ strikes, political protests, and the accelerated organization and mobilization of workers, is forcing revolutionary people to the forefront of politics once again, and this time in a different capacity. With the slogan that “the revolution continues,” they are demonstrating capitalism’s impotence and its lack of alternatives it can deploy in order to control the situation. On 24 September, the transitional government also tried to intimidate and frighten the teachers by sending its security forces to the scene. Yet at the end of yesterday’s march, on the basis of 1) the fact that the teachers’ movement today is a major political factor on the political scene, which is seen and heard, and 2) promises and guarantees given by the transitional government, the teachers’ union decided to break the strike conditionally, and give the transitional government time and opportunity to fulfill their promise according to an agreed-upon timetable.
The teachers’ demands are:
1) The education minister must be sacked, and all the remnants of the old systems that corrupt political life and the educational environment in Egypt must be abolished.
2) Fair wages must be paid to teachers to end the practice of giving private lessons.*
3) Redefine goals and educational policies to reflect the essence of the 25 January revolution.
4) Increase the education budget to 6.5 percent of the GNP.
5) Create an appropriate educational milieu.
6) Provide an employment guarantee for the teacher graduates.
We are following the revolutionary events in Egypt for bread, freedom and dignity with comradely enthusiasm. We wish the revolutionary workers of Egypt daily-increasing success. We too believe that the revolutionary movement of Egyptian teachers thus far has already changed the balance power in the political arena and the revolution in favor of the workers. Dear ones: your success in accomplishing the first of your demands will push the revolution in Egypt to new heights!
Long live revolution!
Long live revolution in Egypt!
25 September 2011
* Giving of private lessons is a method by which families pay teachers for after-hours tutoring in exchange for passing grades whether or not passing grades were merited.