Instead of the large numbers expected, only a few dozen teachers arrived in the streets of regional cities across Slovakia on Thursday, September 1, wearing a symbolic light blue ribbon to express their dissatisfaction with conditions in the education sector.
"It is a tragedy; we are disappointed by our peers and colleagues," said protest organiser and teacher Ľudovít Sebeledi from Levice, as quoted by the SITA newswire. He organised the gathering of teachers, who were also collecting signatures for a nationwide petition, in Nitra Region. Only about 40 teachers joined the gathering in the city and Sebeledi said he believed this was probably the highest number among all eight regional centres in Slovakia. In Bratislava, only 15 teachers were out in the streets collecting signatures for the petition. Bratislava organiser Marián Katuš, a teacher at the Kulíškova Street elementary school, put the low participation down to the national holiday.
Teachers who have long been dissatisfied with their salaries and their status in society organised protest gatherings in regional centres for Thursday between 10:00 and 13:00. They were protesting against what they say are their low salaries and the under-financing of the education sector.
Sebeledi launched the petition on May 22. Teachers have so far collected 28,000 signatures, of whom 25,000 are from teachers. Sebeledi said the teachers plan to continue the petition until they collect 50,000 signatures, representing more than half of all the teachers in Slovakia. It will then be sent to the cabinet and to Education Minister Eugen Jurzyca (Slovak Democratic and Christian Union (SDKÚ)). However, Jurzyca has already said that he believes teachers are still in a better situation than other public employees.
Meanwhile, education trade unions plan to organise a protest rally in front of the Government Office in Bratislava on September 13, the Sme daily wrote. Union representative Jozef Lužák said that they will demand a starting salary for teachers at the level of the average wage in the national economy, which is currently €746. Jurzyca replied that the government will not be able to find funds in the budget to give such a pay rise to teachers.
Sources: SITA, Sme
Compiled by Zuzana Vilikovská from press reports
The Slovak Spectator cannot vouch for the accuracy of the information presented in its Flash News postings.
2. Sep 2011 at 10:00