Guinea’s contract teachers take to streets, threaten more strikes

Protesting teachers took to the streets across the country all of last week demanding better rights and payment of arrears.

A classroom in Guinea, where contract teachers are striking due to growing frustration over payment arrears and lack of integration into the public system [File: Wan Naiks/AFP]

Contract teachers in Guinea have taken to the streets and are threatening further strikes as they are growing frustrated over payment arrears and lack of integration into the country’s public system.

Demonstrators protested April 24-30 across parts of the West African state, according to French news outlet RFI. Some of the teachers have reportedly not received their salaries for seven months, and the strike comes one month before students are due to take their end-of-year exams.

Last week, the Ministry of Territorial Administration and the Ministry of Pre-University Education announced the payment of salaries, though no date has yet been set, RFI reported.

However, the ministries have said teachers’ contracts must first be updated and fraudulent cases screened out.

“It is the first time that the two departments are examining the issue of contract teachers,” Alseny Mabinty Camara, the national coordinator for contract teachers, told RFI.

However, Camara remains sceptical.

“This minister has made many promises in the past that have never been fulfilled, so we remain unsatisfied and wait to see how the content of this press release will be implemented,” he said.

Questions loom over what will happen if the teachers’ threat to strike becomes real.

“Today, the truth is that the correct organisation of national examinations is threatened in more ways than one. The day we decide to leave the classrooms entirely, that will negatively affect the proper functioning of national exams,” said Camara.

Manifestation de jeunes dans une banlieue de Conakry le 21 fevrier 2017 ou au moins cinq personnes avais été tuées lundi à Conakry dans des violences ayant éclaté lors de manifestations pour réclamer la réouverture des classes. AFP PHOTO / CELLOU BINANI
In 2017, at least seven people died in demonstrations supporting striking teachers [Cellou Binani/AFP]

Teachers’ strikes are common in Guinea, with one episode resulting in a deadly confrontation with police forces in February 2017.

Back then, at least seven people died as police clashed with demonstrating students supporting striking teachers. Guinea’s main teachers’ unions had launched the strike to protest the government’s decision to dismiss or reduce the salaries of many junior teachers after civil service exams.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies