ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – A coordinated strike by school teachers in several provinces and cities in Iran on Wednesday entered its second day as disgruntled educators protest, among other issues, the collapsing standard of living.
This is the second time in the past two months teachers have organized sit-ins and strikes, directing wide-ranging demands, from better living standards to the right of students to learn in their mother tongue, to the government in Tehran. On both occasions, social media users posted pictures with strikers holding up posters and signs with their written demands.
The latest strikes came after calls by the Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI) for a massive walkout, with multiple schools from over a dozen cities responding, among them Tehran, Sanandaj (Sna), Karaj, Saqqez, Kermanshah (Kermashan), Marivan (Mariwan), Divandarreh (Diwandara), Shiraz, Yazd, Hamadan, Ahvaz, Isfahan, Langarud, Khomeini-Shahr, Jolfa, Babel, Qazvin, Bushehr, Zanjan, Sari, and Tabriz.
Among slogans the teachers held up were: “We protest the state of education [in Iran],” “We protest against the [low] living standards,” “Promote teachers’ dignity and livelihoods,” and other signs that indicate the economic status of the average Iranian: “Poverty line at 6 million Tomans, teachers’ salary 2 million Tomans [$475 USD].”
Since the US pulled out from the Iran nuclear deal in May and re-instituted two sets of sanctions targeting the Islamic Republic’s economy, the rial has been on a downward spiral, affecting the purchasing power of the country’s people. Many have criticized the government for failing to deal with the crisis.
Teachers also asked for an “end to discrimination,” “free education,” which they insist is the “right of the children of Iran,” the ability for people to receive an education in their mother tongue, freedom of imprisoned teachers, and demanded an end to indiscriminate investigations and arrests of union activists.
One of the issues ethnic groups with their distinct languages and dialects in Iran have raised since the 1979 Islamic Revolution is that there are no provisions for children to be taught in their mother tongue, a right the constitution was meant to protect.
As per Article 15 of the Iranian Constitution, “Persian is the official and common language and script of the people of Iran. The documents, correspondence, official texts, and schoolbooks must all be in this language and script.”
However, “use of regional and ethnic languages in the press, the mass media, and the teaching of their literature at schools, alongside the Persian language, is freely permitted,” Article 15 concludes.
Despite forty years passing since the ratification of the constitution, Tehran is yet to implement the article.
Editing by Nadia Riva