by Philip Rizk
On September 9th, 2012, thousands of Egyptian teachers from all over the country demonstrated at the Parliament, blocking one of Cairo’s main streets. “I can’t even feed my kids — how can I teach my students?” one of them yelled into the camera. “This was not simply a protest for higher wages but a demand for an overhaul of the educational system,” explained one teacher holding a sign that read “the teachers’ revolution.” Amongst other things these teachers demand fair wages in order to put an end to private tutoring. Most teachers must give lessons after school hours in order to make a decent living and to provide extra support to students who do not learn enough in the overcrowded classrooms.
It is a self-perpetuating system. Many of the teachers at the demo have had enough.
Many teachers do other jobs after school hours in order to support their families, such as farming, working in restaurants or cafes, and driving taxis till late into the night. One teacher demanded: “How do they expect us to teach after that?” The protesting teachers also want a 25% increase in the national education budget in order to raise the quality of education and educational infrastructure. As for the IMF loan to Egypt, many of the teachers are highly critical and believe the government must rely on local resources rather than become more and more indebted to foreign governments and financial institutions. One Alexandria teacher asked: “Where is our stolen money? We don’t need to borrow. The government needs to make some revolutionary decisions.”
Philip Rizk is a German-Egyptian filmmaker and member of the Mosireen media collective. Follow Rizk on Twitter @ <twitter.com/tabulagaza>. For more information about Mosireen (<mosireen.org> and <twitter.com/mosireen>), see Mosireen, “Support a Revolutionary Egyptian Media Collective at Indiegogo,” (MRZine, 19 September 2012).