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Source: RFE/RL

May 5, 2024

Iranian Teachers Call Out Government Over Lack Of Reforms

By RFE/RL's Radio Farda

Teachers across Iran have rallied in support of reforms in the education sector and an end to what they describe as discriminatory and oppressive treatment by authorities.

The Iranian Teachers' Union's Coordination Council reported that security forces detained four participants during the protests in Tehran, with one teacher, Mehdi Farahi Shandiz, still being held in custody.

The council condemned the arrests, stating that "those detained were subjected to violence by security forces during the peaceful demonstrations."

The nationwide protests highlighted several grievances, including demands for "the immediate release of all imprisoned educators, provision of free education for all, and the abolition of gender discrimination in educational policies," according to a council resolution.

The teachers called out the Islamic republic’s government, claiming it "opts to suppress and threaten proactive teachers rather than combat embezzlers and the corrupt, subjecting them to measures such as exile, dismissal, and imprisonment."

Teachers have in recent years taken to the streets on several occasions to protest against their working conditions and demand higher wages. They have also called on the government to speed up the implementation of reforms that would see their salaries better reflect their experience and performance.

The Human Rights News Agency HRANA reported that just ahead of the protests, 17 teachers were summoned and interrogated by the intelligence services in Sanandaj, indicating a continued pattern of pressure and scrutiny on educational professionals in Iran.

Unrest -- including months of protests by workers -- has rattled Iran in recent years in response to declining living standards, wage arrears, and a lack of welfare support.

Labor Ministry data show Iran's poverty rate doubled in 2021, with one-third of the population living in "extreme poverty." Since then, conditions have failed to improve.

In September 2023, Iran's Misery Index, calculated by the Iranian Statistics Center, rose to 60.4 -- its highest point ever and more than double what it was six years ago. The higher the rating, the worse off people feel.

Labor laws in Iran do not recognize the right of workers to form independent unions.

Written by Ardeshir Tayebi based on an original story in Persian by RFE/RL's Radio Farda

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