A coordinated strike by school teachers in several provinces and cities in Iran on Wednesday continued for the second day in row to protest the deteriorating financial and social conditions.
This is the second time in the past two months in which the teachers organize sit-ins and strikes, directing wide-ranging demand to the government in Tehran including better living standards to the right of students to learn in their mother tongue. On both occasions, social media users posted pictures of the strikers raising banners and signs with their written demands.
The latest strikes came after calls by the Coordinating Council of Teachers Syndicates in Iran (CCTSI) for a massive walkout, with multiple schools from over a dozen of cities including Tehran, Sanandaj (Sna), Karaj, Saqqez, Kermanshah (Kermashan), Marivan (Mariwan), Divandarreh (Diwandara), Shiraz, Yazd, Hamadan, Ahvaz, Isfahan, Langarud, Khomeini-Shahr, Jolfa, Babel, Qazvin, Bushehr, Zanjan, Sari, and Tabriz.
Among the slogans in which the teachers raised were: “We protest the state of education [in Iran],” “We protest against the [deteriorating] living standards,” “Promote teachers’ dignity and livelihoods,” and other banners that indicate the economic status of the average Iranian: “Poverty line at 6 million Tomans, teachers’ salary 2 million Tomans [$475 USD].”
Since the US pulled out from the Iran nuclear deal in May and re-instituted two sets of sanctions targeting the Iran's economy, the rial has been on a downward spiral, affecting the purchasing power of the country’s people. Many have criticized the government for failing to deal with the crisis.
Teachers also asked for an “end to discrimination,” “free education,” which they insist is the “right of the children of Iran,” the ability for people to receive an education in their mother tongue, freedom of imprisoned teachers, and demanded an end to indiscriminate investigations and arrests of union activists.
One of the issues is the ethnic groups and their distinct languages and dialects in Iran which have been raised since the 1979 Revolution. There are no provisions for children to be taught in their mother tongue, a right the constitution was meant to protect, the protesters also said.
As per Article 15 of the Iranian Constitution, “Persian is the official and common language and script of the people of Iran. The documents, correspondence, official texts, and schoolbooks must all be in this language and script.”
However, “the use of regional and ethnic languages in the press, the mass media, and the teaching of their literature at schools, alongside the Persian language, is freely permitted,” Article 15 concludes.