Students sit in an almost deserted public school classroom after teachers started an open strike on Sunday in Jordan.
AMMAN, JORDAN — Classrooms were almost deserted on Sunday as teachers in public schools around the Kingdom began an open strike demanding a pay raise and parents opted not to send their children to school.
After talks with the government resulted in no agreement on Saturday, the Jordan Teachers Association (JTA) announced that it would go ahead with an open strike, just a week after the academic year began, until the government delivers a 50-per cent raise.
The association says that the raise in teachers’ salaries was agreed upon with the government five years ago but never materialised.
Under the JTA’s instructions, teachers reported to schools and ran the morning assembly, but did not attend the classes, and students who showed up remained in school yards.
Minister of State for Media Affairs and Government Spokesperson Jumana Ghunaimat reiterated on Sunday that the government is committed to dialogue with the JTA, but there were no indications of new scheduled talks or prospects for an agreement to end the strike.
Meanwhile, in private schools, classes resumed as usual.
According to the Jordan News Agency, Petra, around 1.5 million students are enrolled in public schools around the Kingdom, which employ some 80,000 teachers.
On Thursday, teachers from around the Kingdom took part in a sit-in in Amman during school hours demanding the pay raise, after which they announced a strike, dubbed “illegal” by the government at the time.
In a press conference following Saturday’s talks, JTA Vice President Naser Nawasrah told the press that teachers “will not enter the classrooms until those responsible for transgressions against teachers during Thursday’s protest are held accountable”, to which the government responded with a request for the syndicate to provide a list of all alleged violations during Thursday’s sit-in, pledging to investigate any cases of “documented” transgressions “seriously and transparently”.
For its part, the Public Security Department (PSD) said in its own press conference that its personnel “practised restraint” during Thursday’s protests, but they “were driven to the use of force by some protesters who were shoving their way to reach Fourth Circle”.
The PSD stated that it detained 50 teachers during the protests for “illegally forcing their way through”, adding that 15 of them were referred to the Bayadir precinct, where they underwent protocol procedures.
The government reiterated on Saturday its commitment to dialogue as a way to improve the living conditions of teachers and public-sector employees as well as enhancing the educational process by boosting performance.