Carrying candles and banners, hundreds of contractual teachers rallied last night in Rabat to criticize the government’s decisions.
Rabat – Hundreds of contractual teachers dressed in white coats while marching with banners to voice anger over the government’s decisions on Saturday night in front of the Parliament.
The protest, which continued after midnight, was surrounded by several vans of police and auxiliary forces who used water cannons to disperse the protesting teachers.
The teachers continued their demonstrations despite law enforcement’s approach.
The protesters held several banners and chanted slogans such as: “social justice, freedom, and dignity” and “people want to bring [temporary] contracts to an end.”
The protests followed statements made by Minister of Education and Vocational Training Said Amzazi and Government Spokesperson Mustapha El Khalfi, who reaffirmed the government’s unwillingness to abandon employment by contract.
While the government calls the protesters “contractual teachers,” the demonstrators have described themselves as “forcibly contractual teachers.”
What’s in the contracts?
Contractual employment in the education sector was introduced in 2016, when the country’s government was still run by former head of government Abdelilah Benkirane.
On November 1, former Minister of Education Rachid Ben Al Moukhtar Ben Abdellah announced that regional educational and training academies are able to employ teachers via contract, in accordance with Joint Decision Number 7259, convening Ministry of Education and Ministry of Economy and Finance.
One of the conditions of the contract is that regional education academies have the right to terminate a contract within 30 days of sending notice to the teacher.
The teachers, who are required to have a university degree, can be hired on a contractual basis after oral and written tests and one year of field training.
According to the document signed by the former minister, contracts sought to strengthen human resources. The decision came as an attempt to solve the teacher shortage as a matter of urgency and to curb unemployment.
A condition of the contract specifies that the concerned teachers are not allowed to seek a permanent position in the education sector after signing the contract.
The contract requires teachers to undergo a training period. The contracts can also be renewed for one year after training.
The documents also state that employees will receive a monthly salary similar to what teachers in the public sector receive: starting from MAD 5,000.
Contractual teachers have rights to promotion and pension, in addition to maternity leave for female teachers, public holidays, and summer holidays.
The teachers, according to the document, have the right to “social protection,” which enables them to enjoy several benefits, including the ability to participate in health coverage managed by the “general cooperation of national education.”
Why are they protesting?
Contractual teachers argue that they are not afforded as many benefits as those in the public sector, especially concerning retirement. The teachers are requesting permanent work contracts.
Earlier this month, Morocco’s Minister of Education Said Amzazi said the government recruited teachers by contract with the aim of “improving the regional academies as public institutions with administrative and financial autonomy and controlling their human resources.”
Amzazi also added that the recruitment of teachers based on contracts is an “irreversible strategic choice,” the teachers were informed of all the clauses contained in the contract they signed and committed themselves voluntarily.
On March 9, the minister announced that his ministry might consider abolishing employment under fixed-term contract, giving contractual teachers more benefits.
The contractual teachers, however, refused the minister’s offer as they are seeking concessions from the government.
The protesters’ objection was followed by a statement from the government spokesperson, Mustapha El Khlafi, who said that the protests have “nothing to do with their interest, but they aim to disrupt public utility.”
One teacher told Morocco World News, “We cannot make concessions on our rights. We have to fight for them.”
He added, “It’s our constitutional right to stage strike as long as the government refuses to open a dialogue with us and solve this issue together.”
Teachers are also threatening further protests, announcing that they would push for a “blank year” or anné blanche of striking from work in defiance of the government’s warnings.
It remains to be seen whether the government will offer any further amendments to its decisions regarding the situation of teachers.