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Ministry stands firm on teachers’ strike; syndicate ‘to escalate’

By Khaled Neimat - Aug 27,2014 - Last updated at Aug 27,2014

AMMAN — Minister of Education Mohammad Thneibat on Wednesday said that his team is working on alternatives to deal with the ongoing strike by teachers across the country.

However, he stressed that  “no decision regarding the issue has yet been reached”.

The Jordan Teachers Association (JTA) responded by threatening more escalation if the Education Ministry carries out its alternative plan.

The minister’s remarks came during a meeting with the Education Committee at the Lower House to present MPs with a government plan to confront the teachers’ strike, which will enter its third week on Sunday.

The ministry is considering the temporary employment of thousands of substitute teachers to counteract the shortage of an estimated 60,000 education workers who are currently on strike.

“We are asking all parents to send their children to school on Sunday and we will record the absence of any students accordingly,” Thneibat said. He stressed that schools will be ready to receive students by next week, whether or not the JTA decides to suspend the strike.

The minister threatened to pay the wages of temporary teachers from funds docked from the salaries of regular teachers if the work stoppage continues. 

The House panel called on the government to find a permanent solution to this issue and requested it to either end the stand-off by giving the teachers what they want or propose another way out that will ensure the education process returns to normal.

During a meeting of the Lower House on Wednesday, the head of the Education Committee in the Lower House, Mohammad Qatatsheh, said: “Our concern is for the students and if the government and the JTA fail to resolve the issue or reach a compromise, then we have to step in to defend the rights of the students.”

Meanwhile, dozens of government employees from various agencies and locations sent letters to the Prime Ministry through their departments, vowing they would replace striking teachers in case the work stoppage continues.

According to the documents, made available to The Jordan Times, the volunteers hold degrees in subjects ranging from engineering to education. 

In a related development, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported that several parents have filed lawsuits against the JTA for the harm the strike will cause to their children. 

The teachers’ union responded with a threat to escalate the protest as of Sunday.

In a statement quoted by web-based media outlets Wednesday, the syndicate said that teachers plan to form “human chains” in governorates and on roads linking districts with the capital.

According to the statement, the JTA also plans to hold meetings with parents to counter the ministry’s campaign and noted that in case “there was threat to use force or actual use of force” against the protesters, they would gather at the education directorates to “hand over the school’s keys to the education director”. 

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