- Title: Libyan schools shut as teachers on swollen payroll demand better wages
- Date: 24th October 2019
- Summary: BENGHAZI, LIBYA (OCTOBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF EMPTY SCHOOL YARD AND BUILDINGS AS TEACHERS STRIKE DOOR CLOSED VARIOUS OF LOCKED DOOR VARIOUS OF EMPTY SCHOOL CORRIDOR VARIOUS OF EMPTY CLASSROOM (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HEAD OF BENGHAZI TEACHERS SYNDICATE, OMAR AHMED AL-ABBAR, SAYING: "The reason for this strike is that we need to implement Law No. 4, issued by the parliament, which is enforceable. The law has three stipulations: increasing the teacher's (salaries), medical insurance and the protection of teachers. We are striking on the condition that we live under the rule of law, and the law should be implemented." SIGN AT SCHOOL ENTRANCE READING (Arabic): "Al-Shorouk school welcomes you" EMPTY PLAYGROUND FATHER AND SON LEAVING SCHOOL (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) PARENT OF STUDENT, FATHY AL-ZAIDY, SAYING: "As parents, we've lived through the war before, and (students) missed years of school, we cannot take this anymore. One has nothing but his kids. I had to take him (his son) out of a public school and send him to a private one." JOURNALIST ASKING: "Why?" "In order not to miss this school year. We don't just want a certificate saying that he passed and can move on to the next grade. The most important thing is that he learns and understands." EMPTY CLASSROOM WRITING ON BOARD EMPTY CORRIDOR AT SCHOOL BENGHAZI, LIBYA (OCTOBER 20, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF BENGHAZI'S EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT, MOSTAFA AL-DARSI, WORKING AT DESK IN HIS OFFICE (SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) BENGHAZI'S EDUCATION SUPERINTENDENT, MOSTAFA AL-DARSI, SAYING: "We are all teachers, and we support them. A true and dedicated teacher deserves the bonuses. We are not in conflict with the syndicate. We are not the rival and the judge, we are all united. But, we examined the country's conditions in the ministry and discussed it with the minister of education. The country's conditions do not allow to increase the salaries of teachers, not even by one dirham. Not only for teachers, but generally. As you know, the country is in debt. The minister of education visited us here and discussed Law No. 4, he said that he supports the teachers and their right to the salary increases is guaranteed, but the increases will be given when there is enough money." BENGHAZI, LIBYA (OCTOBER 17, 2019) (REUTERS) VARIOUS OF LIBYAN FLAG IN EMPTY SCHOOL
- Embargoed: 7th November 2019 12:34
- Keywords: teachers strike in Libya schools in Libya education Libyan economy
- Location: BENGHAZI, LIBYA
- City: BENGHAZI, LIBYA
- Country: Libya
- Topics: Conflicts/War/Peace
- Reuters ID: LVA001B2GFXP1
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Strikes are keeping classrooms shut at the start of the school year in Libya as teachers seek better pay from a budget under strain from a massive public salary bill and renewed conflict.
State-run schools were meant to open on October 13, but teachers angered by falling living conditions and stagnant wages have been staging sit-ins in Benghazi, Libya's second city, and Tripoli, the capital.
Living standards in oil-rich Libya, once one of the wealthiest countries in the region, have been sliding downwards amid stop-start warfare and political turmoil.
Monthly salaries range from 500 to 850 ($357-$608) Libyan dinars in state run schools, and have not risen significantly since before the uprising that overthrew former leader Muammar Gaddafi in 2011.
Schools are run down, and teachers do not receive health insurance or bonuses.
In Benghazi, teachers have been staging sit-ins downtown and outside the education ministry building since last month.
Mustafa al-Darsi, Benghazi's education superintendent, said more than 200 schools had been shut by the protest. That has prompted some families to move their children to private schools.
Darsi said that just 18,000 of the 47,000 officially employed as teachers in Benghazi had been turning up to work and "holding the chalk". They deserved a raise, but financial constraints made that impossible.
The eastern parliament approved a decree last year to increase teachers' salaries, but it has not been implemented.
Libya has been split between rival governments and parliaments based in Tripoli and the east from 2014.
For the past six months forces led by Khalifa Haftar and aligned with the eastern government have been waging a military campaign to take control of the capital.
The fighting has drained resources on both sides.
Much of Libya's population of 6.5 million depends on state salaries, which account for more than half of all public spending.
Funded by oil revenue, they are paid by the central bank in Tripoli to citizens across the country.
The system is a legacy of corruption and political patronage before and after 2011.
The central bank has eliminated some fraudulent or duplicate salaries, but many collect wages without working.
The education sector is especially bloated. Officials in Tripoli said nearly 240,000 teachers and other staff were on its books in western and southern regions, including 60,000-70,000 replacement teachers.
The head of the teachers' union in Benghazi said another 190,000 teachers were registered under the government in the east.
(Production: Ahmed al-Rabei, Mai Shams El-Din)
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