University Professors Threaten With More Protest Unless Gov’t Addresses Demands
|Tuesday, March 25,2008 17:16|
|By Doaa Abdul Raouf|
More than two thousands teaching staff members in Egyptian universities of Cairo , Helwan, Ain Shams, Zagazig, Bani Suwayf, Alexandria , Mansoura, Al-Azhar University in Asyut , staged a strike on Sunday .
Cairo University was on top in the number of striking teaching staff members, up to 850, followed by Alexandria University, 500 teaching staff members in the strike, to the extent that rate of strike among the teaching staff of the Faculty of Fine Arts, Alexandria, was up to 90%.
In Helwan University , a number of students joined the protest vigils staged by their professors. These vigils were staged immediately after the strike. The security forces tried to arrest one of the students who were showing solidarity with professors. He was taken to the office of the University President where he was threatened and was prevented from hanging posters of solidarity. Up to 35 teaching staff members took part in the strike.
At Ain Shams University, the striking professors- up to 70- raised their eyebrows why the university and government stop short of raising their meager salaries while it- the university- spend huge sums of money to hold singing parties in the campus, according to them.
The professors strike reached also the University of Mansoura- 150 teaching staff members took part in the strike, along with 15 Suez Canal university teaching staff members, 50 Bani Suway university staff members, while a relative calm dominated universities of Banha, Ganoub Al-Wadi and Suhaj.
Al-Azhar University , branch of Asyut witnessed a partial solidarity with fellow professors in the public education universities. Teaching staff members called also for salary raises in a way that secures a decent life for them, while Al-Azhar University teaching staff members stopped short of staging any strike or vigil.
The university professors capped their strike with a one hour vigil in front of university administrations in which they demanded a 100% salary raise and improving the conditions of the universities, simultaneously criticizing the principle of "conditional increase", proposed by Dr. Hani Hilal, the Minister of Higher Education, and welcomed by the Cabinet.
Dr. Amr Darag, a professor in the Faculty of Engineering and a member of the Muslim Brotherhood group, saw that the university professors teach through calling for the demands, the students to know from the beginning their right to lead a decent life which will happen only in an appropriate political environment.
Hani Al Husseini, deputy chairman of the coordinating committee of the strike, saw that the strike " started from the building that includes office of the Cairo University president, and it extended to many universities, while few number of them managed to hold a vigil due to the tight security siege imposed on universities since early morning".
Asked why the plans of the strike changed and why it wasn"t maintained till the end of the day, Al Husseini said:" today is the beginning, not the end", pointing out that the strike was a warningthis time, adding that:" We had two options, either to be to the students interests thrugh ony showing them that we must we demand our rights in a civilized way or to hold a general strike for days and consequently completely paralyzing the educational process in a way that may harm interests of the students".
Dr. Mohamed Abu Al-Ghar, a Left-leaning professor of gynecology at Kasr Alainy Faculty of Medicine said that:" The university professors took this move not only for a salary raise, but also to set the scene for campaigning for reform, topped by political reform. Strikes aren"t held only for money. We are citizens who raise citizens".
"The Egyptian regime has never dealt with us with credibility and transparency as much as information and data are concerned. Doubting any statements issued by the Egyptian regime is not our responsibility. Therefore, we want written decisions even if they are mechanisms which will be applied at intervals".
Abu Al-Ghar pointed out that a university professor"s salary is in the average of about 400 pounds, less than $75. "The strike surpassed expectations of the government and university professors, and even the strike organizers themselves".
For her part, Awatif Abd Al-Rahman, a Left leaning professor at the Faculty of Information, said that the professors" demands are the same of other sections of the Egyptian society. "We are a part of the Egyptian people. We face the crisis of bread like people, and even the crisis of the oil bottle. Our demand is not a demand of a specific section. It is a popular demand".