Teachers across Iran held gatherings in more than 100 cities and went on strikes on Saturday, February 19, protesting and reiterating their demands that they have been raising for years. These teachers are suffering from low paychecks as inflation continues to rise and prices of goods and housing are skyrocketing.
The implementation of a “classification plan,” supposedly aimed at reorganizing the teachers’ wages, is one of the main demands being raised by the protesting teachers. The demonstrators are also seeking the release of their jailed colleagues who have been apprehended for organizing protests.
In the city of Ilam, the protesting teachers escalated the protests and began voicing strong criticism against senior regime officials, including mullahs’ President Ebrahim Raisi and Majlis (parliament) Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf.
The teachers are also demanding pensions for retired teachers to be adjusted according to rising inflation and prices of basic goods. The regime’s Majlis (parliament) recently approved a budget that barely meets a small portion of the needs of hundreds of thousands of teachers.
The rallying teachers chanted the following during their demonstrations today:
“Jailed teachers must be released!”
“Our paychecks are in rials (Iran’s national currency) while the bills are in dollars!”
“Teachers are aware and fed up with (hollow) promises!”
The gatherings include both active and retired teachers, who have been hit hard by an economic downturn and the regime’s dithering in passing laws and allocating budgets to improve their conditions.
Mrs. Maryam Rajavi, the President-elect of the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI), has long praised the Iranian teachers “who have again risen nationwide with chants of ‘from Tehran to Khorasan, teachers are jailed,’ ‘Imprisoned teachers must be freed,’ ‘This is the final message, teachers’ movement is ready for an uprising,’ to obtain their unalienable rights.
Mrs. Rajavi has also praised the women teachers “who through their protests and defiance against suppression and arrest of protesters, keep alight the flames of teachers’ movement. Hail to teachers in Shiraz, who replenish the tree of liberty with chants of ‘learn freedom, this is today’s lesson.’”
In December, the Majlis passed the “Teachers Ranking” bill, legislation supposedly prepared to address many of the issues Iran’s teachers have been facing during the past few years.
According to the bill, teachers will be classified based on “general, specialized and professional qualifications, experience, and competitive function” and divided into five rankings. Salaries are to be determined based on the teachers’ ranking.
While the regime has long boasted about the bill and its claimed achievements, Iran’s teachers are calling out the regime for not seeing to their needs.
The Iranian Teachers Coordination Council called the bill deceitful and unacceptable, adding that the government has warned that it won’t even implement this flawed plan in the current Persian year, which will continue until March 2022.
According to the bill, a total of 250 trillion rials (around $950 million) will be allocated to around 734,000 teachers across Iran in the coming Persian year, starting in March 2022. However, the bill does not consider the tens of thousands of tutors working on unofficial contracts because the regime’s Education Ministry refuses to hire them despite having passed its test.
“There’s no funding to implement the law in the current year and the government has no credit for the year 1400 [March 2021-March 2022], said Hossein Arab Assadi, deputy head of the Employment Affairs Organization, following the passage of the aforementioned bill.
Majlis Speaker Mohammad Bagher Ghalibaf had previously declared that the Majlis cannot change the 250 trillion-rial budget allocated to this plan per year.
The teachers had held nationwide protests rallies in early- and mid-December.
The regime has tried to intimidate the teachers by describing their rallies as a “security threat” and paving the way for their repression.
On December 15, the state-run Keyhan newspaper warned that the rallies are being carried away and controlled by the “enemies of the state.”
Meanwhile, the Javan newspaper, affiliated with the Revolutionary Guards (IRGC), tried to downplay the teacher’s demands and complained that 72 percent of the education budget increase has been allocated to the teachers. “Instead of allocating our credit to expand the education system and increase the quality of education, we are spending it on salaries,” the newspaper wrote.
Ironically, Javan makes no mention of the budget of its owner, the IRGC, which has seen a 240-percent year-over-year increase to spend billions of dollars on foreign terrorism, ballistic missiles, internet censorship, and domestic repression.