BEIRUT: Public school contract teachers demanded that civil service exams be restricted to current instructors and that they be paid overdue wages in a protest Tuesday at Beirut’s Riad al-Solh Square.
The head of the High School Contract Teachers Committee, Hamza Mansour, warned that holding open civil service exams would “eliminate” the prospects of those teachers who had been working on contracts for the last 10 years.
The contract teachers are seeking fixed, long-term employment in the public schools to gain access to social benefits such as pensions.
The teachers argue that if the civil service exams were open to newcomers rather than restricted to current contract workers, the increased competition would mean many of them would lose their chance at becoming permanent employees.
Without permanent employment, those teachers who have been working in public schools for 10 years would still have nothing to show for it with regard to a pension, which has prompted many of them to oppose the idea of open exams.
Speaking at the protest, Mansour called for an end to the “massacre” of open exams, and asked for a formula to be found that would allow for a “fair, restricted exam that all contract teachers sit, with the selection process not dependent on sectarian affiliation.”
The second demand of the contracts teachers is for salaries that have been pending since last year.
“We demand the payment of our dues returning to the third term of the 2013-2014 academic year,” said Umayma Nassar, secretary of the Elementary Public School Contract Teachers Committee.
She called for a mechanism to ensure the teachers are paid on time in the future.
Nassar raised the need to approve the decision to raise the hourly wage of the contract teachers, “that was decreed more than one year ago.”
The protesters also called for “a real dialogue” with the Education Minister Elias Bou Saab, saying that several previous attempts to hold discussions with the minister had failed.