Despite continued oppression by the military government in Egypt, schoolteachers have been on the streets demanding more money for education. The teachers went ahead with their protest outside the Press Syndicate in the capital, Cairo, despite being refused permission to do so by security forces.
Teachers earn so little money that they are forced to offer private tuition in the afternoons in order to supplement their salaries. This is more or less expected of them, to the extent that some of the 40% of teachers who are on temporary contracts earn very little or even nothing at all, on the basis that they can make up their money with private lessons. The reason parents are prepared to pay for such lessons is the chronic underfunding of schools in the country. And of course such a system drives a wedge between teachers and parents who understandably resent having to pay for a service which should be provided free by the state, according to the Egyptian constitution.
The protesters are demanding both improved pay for teachers and proper funding for education.
In another development, the Sisi government has frozen the family assets and seized the personal funds of Abdel Hafez Tayel, the director of the Egyptian Centre for the Right to Education. He, along with other leaders of human rights organisations is accused of taking money from foreign donors and is liable to up to 25 years in prison if found guilty. This latest attack is part of a wave of repression carried out by the Egyptian government since it seized power in 2013.
A spokesperson for the human rights organisation Amnesty International said: “The Egyptian authorities are using this case as a way to crush the country’s human rights movement. Meanwhile, the government’s brutal crackdown on dissent shows no sign of stopping, with enforced disappearances and torture becoming a matter of state policy. Egypt needs these critical voices more than ever.”
It is notable that this repressive government is one with which countries which purport to 'defend democracy' such as the EU, the US and the UK are happy to do business.