Interviewed by Abdu Al-Jaradi
FOR THE YEMEN POST
In front of the hall in which the teacher’s day was celebrated, education inspectors demonstrated demanded their rights. Head of Yemeni Teachers’ Syndicate Ahmed Al-Rabahi here speaks about teachers’ demands and other related issues.
Abdu Al-Jaradi: What is the reason behind teachers’ demonstrations from time to time?
Ahmed Al-Rabahi: In the beginning, I would like to thank you for your interest in education and teachers’ issues. The current demonstrations are made by teachers and inspectors to protest living sufferings due to insufficient salaries and not implementing the law of salaries and wages which could have improved the situation of teachers. Teachers’ protests always revolve around implementing salaries law in its different particles including bonuses, settlements and allowances.
AJ: It is said that such protests affect education?
AR: Deteriorating situation of teachers and the rampage of corruption as well as appointing headmasters and other school officials through partisan standards and not based on competency is effecting education. These demonstrations aim at reforming the educational process and these demonstrations, unlike festivals and holidays, do not waste a lot of time.
AJ: Does this mean that the educational process has turned to be a scene for political conflicts?
AR: The situation of the educational process is a reflection for the country’s situation. As observed, the whole situation is destabilized. The political events in Sa’ada and some Southern provinces have badly affected education.
AJ: Recently, there have been increased reports of assaults on teachers, how do you view this?
AR: I consider it to be a phenomenon and it is aggravating due to several factors including the anarchy of the public situation, dominance of chaos behavior and this is encouraged by state as it shows laxness with influential people when assaulting teachers. The teacher is looked with contempt due to his deteriorating situation.
AJ: What is the role your syndicate plays in fighting this phenomenon?
AR: We, in the syndicate, stand against such events; however, we are deterred by the weak response of concerned authorities. The negligence of security and judicial authorities make people prefer customary law.
AJ: This means that official side is primarily involved?
AR: They are greatly involved in this process as they are politicizing the educational job; for selecting headmasters and their deputies is based on partisan standards and has nothing to do with ability and competency. Thus, the incompetent and unqualified elements are leading the whole educational process at the risk of expert and competent teachers. This passively affects the educational process. What we suffer today is a byproduct of such wrong policies.
AJ: What about cloning syndicates and politicizing their work?
AR: This is the policy followed by authorities though it is destructive. We wish the multiparty system adopted following Yemen’s reunification in 1990 could give a wider margin for society to form syndicates and authorities help these syndicates to help the development; however, this was deterred by the totalitarian mindset – the mindset of 1960s and 1970s. Nothing has changed in this respect despite the fact that we are in the second millennium. Thus we find that most syndicates and organizations are subject to deterioration and they are incapable to play a role in development field. The authority either contains the syndicate or employs it to support its decisions. Once they are not happy about one syndicate, they will work towards cloning it and drying its resources.
AJ: What are the demands of teachers now?
AR: Teachers’ demands lie in implementing Wages and Salaries Law No. 43 issued in 2005 and setting a timeline for the law implementation because the government has not set time frames for such releasing bonuses, settlements and other annual allowances. There are also demands for increasing remote areas allowance and hardship allowance. What has been so far granted to teachers ranges between YR 12,000 – 13,000 and such a sum is nothing. Moreover, a lot of teachers have not received such an allowance. We also demand the Ministry of Finance to release the one-year hardship allowance for 34,000 teachers. Once the government does not respond to our demands, we will urge teachers to continue their protests as this is the only option to make the government responds to our demands.
AJ: What about your relations with foreign organizations?
AR: We have good relations with foreign organizations. Very recently, the syndicate has earned the membership of the International Federation of Education Syndicates. We have also earned the membership of the Islamic Federation of Teachers and I have been selected as a member in this federation. We have joint cooperation with the American Federation of Teachers and we together hold constant training courses and we are working towards building relations with the International Federation of Teachers.