Protests for pay equality amongst teachers turned violent as police responded in full riot gear.
Rabat – On Tuesday, Morocco’s contractual teachers protested in the streets of Rabat against disproportionate salaries and local police responded with violent intervention.
The National Coordination of Contractual Teachers in Morocco announced another protest at the parliament building in the capital of Rabat via Facebook. Protesters from around Morocco gathered last March in front of the parliament building and were met with arrests and violence from counter-protesters.
In the Facebook post, the group stated, “arrest is a thousand times easier than setting aside the battle against contractualization and defending the public school system by even an inch.”
Thousands of protesters flooded the streets of Rabat and police responded in full riot gear. Rather than allow the crowd to reach the parliament building, police diverted the protesters to the walls of Rabat’s old city and ushered the protesters away from the administrative district.
The governorate of Rabat-Sale-Kenitra announced in late March that all protests are prohibited due to COVID-19 safety measures. Police justified the militaristic response to the mass congregation of protesters by citing this decree.
Teachers nationwide denounced the use of police force and stated that the protestors engaged solely in chants and public dialogue with no intention of inciting a riot. Demonstrators filled roadways and used homemade signs to express their dissent with the current inequalities between the public sector and private sector.
Images of the event circulated throughout social media and many accuse the police of excessive force as officers are shown dragging protesters away and using shields and batons to disperse the crowds. One woman was filmed being carried away by her extremities by four police officers.
Background on the protest
In 2016 the ministries of education and finance signed an agreement to employ public teachers by contract. Educators country-wide rejected the decision as they would no longer fall under the jurisdiction of the Ministry of Education, but rather under regional authorities.
Since 2019, protest and labor strikes have been common means of expressing disapproval by teachers and the protests mostly take place in Rabat and other smaller cities around Morocco. Teachers are reaching a “boiling point” as described by the National Coordination of Contractual Teachers’ Facebook page.
On Tuesday evening, a regional committee met to discuss the restructuring of the public school system. The committee plans to support the demands of Morocco’s contractual teachers by supporting professional development opportunities for teachers and accelerating the standardization of public schools.
Currently, contractual public teachers receive between MAD 4,497 – 4,857 ($500-$540) a month while those without contracts are not subject to a salary cap.
Additionally, the government deducted up to MAD 1,457 ($162) from teachers taking part in the protests.
Who are the indirect victims of the protests?
Moroccan students have faced plenty of academic challenges due to the pandemic such as staggered schedules, long hours on the weekend, and new distance learning protocol.
Now, the reoccurance of protests poses a new issue for students as Morocco’s teachers have chosen to demonstrate during school hours.
As of March 2021, the government hired approximately 50,000 contract-based teachers since the decision in 2016.
Teachers seek to reach a mutual decision with the government quickly as students are currently undergoing final exams and the month of Ramadan approaches.
The governorate of Rabat-Sale-Kenitra nor the Ministry of Education have responded to the most recent protest in an official statement.
Protests are ongoing today, April 7 in the Moroccan capital.