A new front of protest has opened in Iran involving the teaching profession, with tens of thousands of teachers taking to the streets in recent days in 120 cities and towns, including Tehran and the Shiite holy city of Qom.
In the capital, hundreds of professors gathered on December 14 in front of the Parliament building (Majlis), right in the center, chanting slogans and demanding the immediate release of a trade union leader. The deputies, in an attempt to quell the protest, voted yesterday for a wage increase.
One of the hot spots of the protest is the city of Shiraz, capital of the province of Fars, in the south-central part of the country, where for days thousands of professors have filled the square. In addition to the capital, dissent has touched the streets of Yasouj, capital of the province of Kohgiluyeh and Buyer Ahmad. Teachers held picket lines in front of schools and education offices in 60 cities and 25 provinces of the Islamic Republic.
Teachers are demanding greater equity in salaries and the release of imprisoned school union leaders, in addition to the implementation of long-promised health insurance and pension payments. Added to this is the long-standing battle to end discrimination (ethnic and denominational) within the education system, the introduction of limits on the freedom to privatize granting freedom to educational institutions. Finally, more resources for the renovation of school buildings that, in many parts, are in a dilapidated condition.
The discontent of teachers is part of a framework of deep difficulties for the Iranian economy, sunk by U.S. sanctions over the country’s nuclear program and the health crisis triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic. In recent weeks oil workers have demonstrated, claiming months of back payments while the skyrocketing inflation rate has lowered the purchasing power of wages.