Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Bahrain: Call to boycott World Teacher's Day

Pupils offer flowers to their teachers.
Bahrain schools divided over call to boycott World Teachers' Day

By Habib Toumi, Bureau ChiefPublished: October 02, 2007, 23:09
Manama: A call by the Teachers' Society to wear black armbands and boycott Ministry of Education celebrations of World Teachers' Day has sharply split up teachers and divided schools.
Teachers, mainly women, accepted roses on Sunday from their students in an atmosphere of gratitude and cheerfulness. In contrast, the mood was sombre for teachers - thousands according to the society, wore black bands to mark the start of a ten-day campaign to ask for better working conditions, including higher salaries.

"Only a few dozens teachers wore the black bands to express their displeasure with the salary increase decided by the Civil Service Bureau. According to the reports we received, only members of the Bahrain Teachers' Society and a few sympathisers refused to join in the celebrations honouring teachers," an education ministry official told Gulf News yesterday.
Jasem Al Harban, the head of student services said that the ministry would use this week "to applaud teachers and to honour those who have retired as a sign of appreciation and respect."
"We are pleased with the attitudes of the hundreds of students who expressed their gratitude to their teachers by offering them roses and thank-you notes. The gestures are part of the celebrations prepared by the ministry to mark World Teachers' Day," he said.
But for Mahdi Abu Deeb, the society's president, the protest movement was successful and exceeded expectations.
"There has been a highly positive response from male and female teachers who wore black as requested by the society to ask for a 30 per cent increase in salaries. In fact, the ministry was bewildered by the success of the protest, especially that school principals and vice-principals also took part by wearing the black bands."
Lambasting the ministry for its "unacceptable" attitude towards teachers, Abu Deeb charged that it had "in fact asphyxiated the aspirations of teachers by shelving proposals to assist them to advance their careers.
World Teachers' Day is being held on Friday.