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Teachers welcome students after month-long strike, parents breathe sigh of relief

By Bahaa Al Deen Al Nawas - Oct 06,2019 - Last updated at Oct 06,2019

Around 1.5 million students returned to nearly 4,000 public schools on Sunday after the end of the month-long teacher’s strike (Photo by Osama Aqarbeh)

AMMAN —  Teachers at nearly 4,000 schools on Sunday welcomed around 1.5 million students to their classrooms after their month-long strike was resolved on Saturday night.

Following a meeting that lasted until late on Saturday, a government team and the Jordan Teachers Association (JTA) reached a deal to end the strike, granting teachers pay raises ranging between 35 and 75 per cent depending on rank.

Laila Saleh said that she was happy to see her daughter Tasnim get up on Sunday morning, ready and eager to go to school.

"She is usually cranky when I wake her up in the morning, but today she was actually happy about going to school. I think she missed her friends and her teachers," Saleh said.

She shared that she is pleased to hear the teachers’ demand was met, and hopes the ministry and the association will find a way to compensate for the missed classes.

"The teachers were very happy and held a small celebration, calling us the flowers of the school and other nice things, and they told us they missed us a lot,” her daughter Tasnim said.

"Our teachers explained to us that they held the strike for the raise, because they need money to live better lives. Now, I am very excited to go back to school, see my friends and learn English and Arabic," she added.

Teacher Mohammad Elian, who teaches chemistry at a secondary school in Nazzal neighbourhood in Amman, said that "students celebrated, greeted and congratulated me today more than my own wedding day".

He added that drivers who take students to school, restaurants where students buy sandwiches on their way to school and back and other businesses that depend on school being in session will all be revitalised now that the strike is over, which means that not only teachers and students will benefit, but the economy as a whole.

On social media, people posted pictures of their children getting ready to go to school and wearing their uniforms in the morning, hoping for a new, successful beginning. 

Mahmoud Eyad, a student in the tenth grade who spoke to The Jordan Times during the strike, said on Sunday that his school in Zarqa went back to normal.

"In the morning, a teacher addressed the whole school and taught us about the strike and why teachers deserved the raise to have a better life, then we went to our classrooms and took classes as usual," he said, adding that they are still not sure how the semester will proceed in order to make up for the previous month.

Meanwhile, Education Ministry Spokesperson Walid Jallad told The Jordan Times on Sunday that the ministry is studying means to compensate students for the classes they missed in the past month, based on several considerations.

The academic year is calculated by the number of class days, national and religious holidays and the date of Tawjihi (general secondary education certificate examination), Jallad said.

Therefore, as per article 40 in the Education Law, which stipulates that the academic year is 195 to 200 days, the ministry will study the amendments to the calendar in order to make up for missed classes. However, it will not resort to holding classes on Saturdays for this purpose, the spokesperson said. 

"The positive part is that the ministry and the JTA both agreed on the importance of helping students compensate for missed classes," Jallad said, adding that there is a separate plan for private, military and UNRWA schools, all of which started classes at the beginning of September, in contrast to the public schools impacted by the strike.

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