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  Head of Yemeni Teachers’ Syndicate: We will continue demonstration until we receive our rights
  Interviewed By:  (YEMEN POST STAFF)
  Article Date: December 3, 2007


Yemeni Teachers' Syndicate has managed to pressure the government to pay attention to teachers' problems, and to discuss their issues during the several public demonstrations conducted in different Yemeni governorates. This pressure resulted in approving the salaries strategy's first phase. Still, what teachers have received so far is not to the minimum level, according to the syndicate's leader Ahmed Al-Rabahi.

YP: How is it the situation of the Yemeni teacher compared to the situation of education?

Al-Rabahi: The Yemeni teacher's situation is not pleasing, and his income does not secure his basic needs as he receives in average $ 150 a month, especially under the recent price hikes.

YP: Does this affect the teacher?

Al-Rabahi: Sure, the low income is passively reflected on the teacher and his educational performance. Most of them are forced to search for other sources of income in order to secure their needs.

YP: What is your role as a syndicate in this issue?

Al-Rabahi: The education's deterioration makes us warn the state against its policy that ignores the teacher and his rights. We, in the syndicate, call always for granting teachers the salaries that fit into the life they live.

YP: What are your demands as to salaries?

Al-Rabahi: We demand state to improve the condition of teachers in according with laws, including Salaries Law numbered 43 issued in 2005. It includes rights that will help improve the condition of teachers and further secure the life's basic things.

YP: What is the average minimum salary you wish state to give?

Al-Rabahi: Salaries law, if implemented, will ensure that the teacher's average salary be $ 500. The law puts the maximum number at $ 800; while the minimum number will be $ 300 for a teacher in the 14th rank. However, the government just increased the average salary to $ 175.

YP: Then, how can the teacher perform and serve the educational process when he is busy with himself?

Al-Rabahi: The teacher cannot excel in his work and develop his capabilities when he is unable to meet the basic needs of life. Continuous search for livelihood has made teachers give up reading new things or develop their teaching expertise.

YP: Why do you focus on salaries?

Al-Rabahi: Our focus on salaries stems from the fact that improving the teacher's life and salaries will improve the educational process. Forgetting about this aspect will cause the deterioration of education. We are not led by our passions as to our demands. 

YP: The government did not responded to your demands only after wide demonstrations in governorates?

Al-Rabahi: It has become clear to us that the government tries to infringe the laws of public servants in general and teachers in particular and thus we resorted to peaceful demonstrations as means for claiming our rights. So far, we have achieved good results. Still we hold government responsible for the continuation of demonstrations. If government responds properly, this stabilizes the educational process and further helps develop it.

YP: Some parties politicize your issue to serve their political goals.

Al-Rabahi: This is untrue and the government claims this whenever we try to activate our demands. We keep telling them that if you want us to halt demonstration, then implement the law. Marketing accusations will not resolve the existing problem and the demonstrations will continue.

YP: It has been noticed that your syndicate achieved popularity among teachers despite that the government has similar syndicates, why?

Al-Rabahi: This is because they feel that our syndicate is serious and reliable as to adopting their issues and defending their rights. 

YP: How do you run the syndicate though you do not have a government or fixed income?

Al-Rabahi: We have gotten a lot of experience since our establishment in 1990 on how to deal with the different circumstances. We try our best to rightly invest our limited resources and support from some syndicates and unions in a way that serve teachers in the field.

YP: Is this the reason for your success?

Al-Rabahi: We face big challenges; however, we try to invest our efforts in a better way than those who have the authority's resources, support and the obligatory subscriptions. What they receive from subscriptions reach around YR 15 million; however, they are used for some individuals' interest.

YP: Where is the Yemeni education heading to?

Al-Rabahi: Unfortunately, the situation of education in Yemen goes from bad to worse and there are many reasons behind that including the lack of the right vision, corruption rampage within the educational administration. Headmasters and centers' general managers are chosen after fanaticism and partisan and positional reasons and this damages the educational process.  

YP: Education budget is too little?

Al-Rabahi: We ask the state to set a budget enough for education, and to allocate 25 percent for education in order to ensure the development of the educational process.

YP: What about your international attendance?

Al-Rabahi: We have good relations with regional, Arab and international organizations and we have exchanged visits with the American Union for Teachers and further gained the membership of the International Education Union and attended its conference held recently in Germany.

YP: There have been reactions for your joining of the international union?

Al-Rabahi: Some parties got displeased out of our relations with outside organizations and hastened to accuse us; however, we tell them the world has become a small global village and organizations have build good relations in order to serve their affiliates.