TRIPOLI, Oct. 13 (Seal News) — On Sunday, the start of the new school year in Libya, Walid al-Warfali, a Libyan school teacher in Tripoli, decided not to go back to school. He took part in a sit-in for higher wages, instead.
“The decision to hold a sit-in is not strange or unilateral. It is a decision made by a large number of teachers, after the government failed to realize the promises made last year to raise wages,” al-Warfali told Seal News.
“I will not go to school until our demands are fulfilled, although I am deeply saddened that students are being deprived of schooling,” the teacher said.
Al-Warfali confirmed that the school year “will not be successful as long as the problems of teachers remain unsolved, in addition to the ongoing war, which displaced tens of thousands of people as the militants use schools as the temporary residence.”
Despite the calls by the teachers’ union in Libya for a sit-in, the new school year began in most cities on Sunday, including the capital Tripoli.
The wages of teachers in Libya are lower compared with the workers in other sectors, as well as the health insurance for them and their families.
Last year, the eastern-based House of Representatives (parliament) pledged to consider the demands of the teachers and expedite issuance of law to guarantee their rights.
The parliament approved a law to raise salaries of teachers. However, the country’s political division and armed conflict delayed the execution of the law.
“As far as Tripoli is concerned, most schools have opened doors to students despite the war. This is positive and all teachers should follow their colleagues’ footstep by considering the public interest over their own,” Rashad Bishr, head of the Libya’s Education Ministry’s Crisis Committee, told Seal News.
“We support the rights of teachers and we will defend them before the concerned authorities. However, rights should be expressed in a way that avoids any disruption to the school year,” Bishr said.
In eastern Libya, dozens of teachers protested before the Education Ministry of the eastern-based government, demanding the education minister to resign for failure to fulfill their rights.
Libyan security forces fired shots in the air to disperse the protesters.
“We are here today to express our rejection of the resumption of the school year and to confirm our legitimate demands,” Juma Mansour, a teacher from the eastern city of Al-Bayda, told Seal News.
Teachers are a milestone in all developed countries, because of their importance and role in raising a generation capable of serving society in various fields, Mansour said.
“Ignoring our demands for years demonstrates the contempt of the consecutive governments to us, which makes us insist on achieving all our demands before returning to schools,” he added.