Some of the teachers who protested outside the Egyptian parliament last week spoke to Socialist Worker.
“We want a 200 percent increase in our bonuses, the same as the government employees,” explained Mahmud Khalil, a secondary school teacher from Kafr al-Shaikh. “Then we want the minister to resign as he rejected our demands.”
“I’ve been working for 20 years and my pay is 75 Egyptian pounds” said Ahmad Abd-al-Muhsin, a teacher from Beni Suef.
“Teachers’ pay is less than the pay of state employees,” added another. “Workers in any other sector are better paid than we are.
“We want to get rid of this system of giving private lessons, by being paid a decent minimum wage that we can actually live on.”
Other teachers criticised the old trade unions.
“All the officials are appointed. We had Mubarak for 30 years, but the old union hasn’t had any change of leadership for 36 years.”
Another explained, “Independent unions have been set up since the revolution, since we’ve been able to raise our voices and demand freedom.”
“We want to see a rebirth of education”, added a colleague. “We are on the side of ordinary people who have to spend up to 50 percent of the money in their pockets on private lessons.
“We’re standing with them, with the Egyptian economy and with the Egyptian people.
“But we’ve also got the right to be able to go home at the end of the day and spend time with our kids. In Britain some teachers get paid around £100 a day—here many of us don’t make that much in two months.”