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Teachers protest during start of EU presidency

In a series of teachers’ actions, the Slovak Teachers’ Initiative (ISU) organised another protest march through Bratislava city centre on July 1, the day when Slovakia’s EU presidency started.

Teachers' banner at the July 1 protest in downtown Bratislava.(Source: SITA)

Teachers wanted to draw attention to breach of promise by politicians, lack of adequate remuneration for teachers and recommendations from both the European Commission and OECD in education that have been largely ignored.

A crowd of approximately 500 discontented teachers took to the streets of the capital.

“On the occasion of Slovakia’s taking up the Presidency of the Council of the EU we’d like to point out to our government but also to the governments of other EU-member states once again that something isn’t right here,” Branislav Kočan of ISU told the TASR newswire. “There are some recommendations by the European Commission that the government has systematically failed to implement for years. The EU should take an interest in this because we form one entity now and we should all be of equal strength and development.” Kočan believes that the Government has ignored calls by the EC and OECD to increase financial allocations for education.

More than 500 teachers wanted to point out the low standards in Slovak education. They intended to gather close to the Reduta building in downtown Bratislava where the opening ceremonies took place but a small company that publishes the hunting magazine Lovu zdar marred their efforts, announcing meetings at almost all the large public spaces in the surrounding area. The teachers had to gather in Kollárovo Square, quite a way from Reduta, Sme daily wrote. The magazine staff did not seem to be aware of the meetings, nor did anyone appear in the squares booked for these meetings between 8AM and 7PM. The teachers march passed from Kollárovo Square, along Obchodná Street to Rybné Square.

They were at least able to put up billboards declaring “Saving on education, good idea Slovakia” an ironic version of the country’s official slogan (Good Idea Slovakia) however this current effort went unnoticed by the European delegations. If their requirements are not fulfilled, teachers say they will continue with their protests in September.

 

Neither former education minister Juraj Draxler, nor the incumbent head of the parliamentary committee for education, Ľubomír Petrák of Smer consider that teachers’ requirements are unfulfilled. They argue that teachers will see salary hikes of 6 percent as of September 1. Education Minister Peter Plavčan (a Slovak National Party/SNS nominee) has already announced that he wants to implement an additional 6-percent hike from January 1 2017. 

 

Topic: Education


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