Thousands of teachers continue country-wide protests despite the Ministry of Education’s proposed changes.
Rabat – Contractual and Cell 9 teachers have pledged not to stop their protests while marching together in demand of reforms to how contractual teachers are paid.
Together the two organizations have formed the Coordination for National Union Coordinations, which brings together the different unions, federations, and groups that have been protesting the current payment structure for some teachers since February.
The Cell 9 coordination, which references a prison cell, the government’s ninth pay grade, and is a pun on the famous Moroccan book “Tazmamart Cell 10,” consists of the Democratic Labor Confederation’s National Education Union (SNE-CDT), the Democratic Labor Federation’s National Education Union (SNE-FDT), and the National Teaching Federation (FNE).
The teachers are members of the government’s ninth pay grade. Many feel they are long overdue for a promotion to the 10th. The average difference between the two grades is MAD 1,500 per month, and according to the Ministry of Education, there are more than 4,560 teachers within the ninth pay grade.
“We are forced to stay in this stage, some of us for decades,” Mohammed Boukhisse, a national coordinator for Cell 9, told Morocco World News. “By doing this the government never needs to increase our pay or benefits.”
Through Facebook, Whatsapp, and weekend meetings, Cell 9 coordinated this week’s demonstrations with the organizations leading the contractual teachers’ strikes—the National Federation of Teachers (UMNT) and the Moroccan National Coordination of Teachers Forced into Teaching Contracts (CNPCC).
“They have been supporting us through all of our fights, so we decided to support them and at the same time promote our own issues,” Khalid Bittaouia, a member of the national CNPCC who worked with Cell 9 to plan the march, told MWN.
“We have made this coordination between all of our groups so that we can force the Ministry of Education to discuss our problems and solve them,” Boukhisse said.
The combined group hosted the first of its four-day mobilization campaigns on Tuesday, with a march beginning outside the headquarters of the Human Resources Department of the Ministry of Education and ending by Parliament.
“We are going to continue our protesting until we get our rights and the ministry agrees to work with us and address our problems seriously,” Boukhisse said. “This is just the start. There will be more teachers in the future.”
The group is scheduling country-wide protests over the next several weeks in an effort to continue putting pressure on the Ministry of Education.
The Ministry of Education declined to comment on the protests.
Since February, demonstrations have been held in several cities across Morocco, including Kenitra, Casablanca, Tetouan, Oujda, Errachidia, and Marrakech.
On March 10, following a six-day sit-in ending on International Women’s Day, the Ministry of Education released an announcement stating that it would abolish the fixed term contractual employments. In the statement, the ministry proposed to hire teachers permanently within the regional academies where they work.
It was a concession the teachers were not willing to make.
Latifa Aitali, a high school teacher and national coordinator for the CNPCC, was vocal about her rejection of the proposed changes—believing the changes will just bury the issues under new laws.
As Aitali marched with her colleagues, she showed off her T-Shirt, which she said perfectly summarized her opinion on the current system and the ministry’s proposed changes.
On the back of her shirt was painted the phrase, “We’ve got 99 problems and the unfair contract caused them all,” a reference to the early-2000s hit “99 Problems” by American artist Jay-Z.
“All teachers in Morocco have problems, that’s why we are protesting together as one,” Aitali said.
Teacher groups have called for continued strikes throughout this week and next week and plan to host another demonstration in Rabat this weekend.