Two teachers have been arrested in Tehran during nationwide rallies calling for better education and for the rights of educators and students to be upheld.
Teachers took to the streets in more than 50 cities on November 11 as part of a planned action organized by the Coordinating Council of Teachers' Unions. Later, union spokesman Mohammad Habibi announced that two teachers who took part in the Tehran rally had been attacked and then arrested in the Baharestan metro station by plainclothes security forces. One of the detainees has been named as Massoud Farhikhteh, a retired teacher. The other detainee has not been named and details regarding the current location and jail conditions for the two teachers have not been disclosed.
Retired teachers joined many of the demonstrations, which were organized in 27 of the country’s provinces. They called for the release of jailed colleagues and expressed outrage about how they had been treated, demanding equality with other government employees.
The Coordinating Council of Teachers' Unions organized the rallies outside local educational head offices after repeated appeals to the government on a range of issues. They said government agencies had failed to respond to their calls for the immediate release of teachers who had been imprisoned for demanding their rights, for fair pay and pensions, and the establishment of a salary scale in line with experience and expertise. Teachers’ unions have also been calling for greater support for pre-school teachers, literacy initiatives and the people driving them, and for the tuition of student teachers to be paid by the government.
Teachers Promote the Cultural and Economic Life of the Country
More generally and long term, they called on the government to improve the quality of education throughout the country, highlighting that fair treatment of teachers is vital to that process. They said the Education Reserve Fund is not being properly managed and that educators should be put in charge of running it. They also called for a teachers’ representative to play an active role in the education ministry.
Teachers have also urged the government to uphold and recognize the rights of all unionists. Teachers who have been dismissed for demanding their rights and the rights of students should be immediately reinstated, they said.
At the end of the rallies, the Coordinating Council of Teachers' Unions activists read out their joint resolution. "We are here to protest against the way budgets are spent and the small percentage of the country's annual budget dedicated to education, given the population of 13 million students, a million teachers and their families, and the importance of the education system in the country's cultural, social and economic infrastructure,” the statement read.
"As demonstrators, we warn the government to pay attention to the demands of cultural figures and take action to solve their problems, without any personal or partisan intentions, without deception, in order to prevent the decline of the country's education.”
When reading out the resolution, protesters also said they had appealed to parliament regarding these issues, outlining them on a website dedicated to parliamentary matters. But nothing had been done, they said, so civic activism was their next step. “If our demands continue to be ignored, the protests will continue over the next few weeks," they announced.
Protests took place in the following cities and towns: Tehran, Karaj, Isfahan, Kermanshah, Songhar Keliai, Rasht, Bandar Anzali, Sanandaj, Lordegan, Bojnourd, Shirvan, Qom, Shiraz, Zarrin Dasht, Noorabad and Mamasani, Farashband , Darab, Ilam, Poldakhtar, Khorramabad, Aligudarz, Boroujerd, Kuhdasht, Dorud, Tabriz, Ahvaz, Izeh, Mahshahr, Andimeshk, Yasuj, Bushehr, Genaveh, Arak, Ilam, Sari, Babol, Amol, Neka, Hamedan, Malayer, Zanjan , Yazd, Dezful, Ghazvin, Bukan, Jolfa, Daran, Javanrood, Divandere, Marivan, Saqez, Bandar Abbas, Khorram Bid, Urmia, Takestan, Mashhad, Kerman, Shahrekord, Gachsaran, Dehdasht, and Lodab.