Al Azhar School Teachers Crisis Deepens

More than 15,000 teachers working at Al Azhar institutions and schools in the governorates of Daqahliya and Gharbiya refused to grade exam papers for the secondary and preparatory schools to protest their exclusion from the special cadre system recently signed into law by President Mubarak to improve the living standards for the teachers.

The teachers in Dakahlia rallied outside Al-Mansoura Azhar institute and Imam Al-Shafii institute and announced their open strike, which entered its fourth day, until their demands are met. Attempts by the Grand Shikh of Al Azhar, Shikh Mohamed Tantawy, had faild to defuse the situation and persuade the striking teachers to resume thier jobs, which will consequently delay the final exam reports for hundreds of thousands of Al Azhar students.

The teachers consider their exclusion an evidence of the descrimination the government is practicing against them

“the government treats Al azhar teachers as third class citizens” said Mustafa Ahmed, chemistry teacher who complained that he works 14 hour a day as a teacher to make a living but the salary he earns is not enough to support his family of 4, so he supplements his income with a night job at a hospital just to get by. Ahmed Ramadan, Math teacher, said that his salary from teaching does not meet his family very basic needs and he had to work a second job selling clothes to be able to support his family “it is emabarassing when my students see me carrying a bag on my shoulder running from one store to the other selling clothes”, Mr. Ramadan said.

MPs Ali Laban, Ibrahim Zakariya Yunus, and Tarek Qotb, members of the Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary bloc, met with the teachers in Gharbiya and promised they will lodge a question to the Prime Minister and the minister of Al-Azhar affairs to address the teachers’ demands and include them in the new special cadre system. Mr. Ali Laban sided with Al-Azhar teachers in thier just demands, and questioned the wisdome of excluding them from the special cadre system.