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Teachers in Tunisia boycotting exams amid escalating tensions with government over financial demands

Tunisian students arrive to take the baccalaureate (high school graduation exam) exam on June 6, 2012 at a high school in Tunis. [Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images]
Tunisian students arrive to take the baccalaureate (high school graduation exam) exam on June 6, 2012 at a high school in Tunis. [Fethi Belaid/AFP/Getty Images]

The tension between the government and Tunisia’s secondary education sector has resumed with the announcement of secondary schools teachers the boycott of exams starting Monday amid protests and violence.

Teachers have started on Monday boycotting exams in most secondary schools by a 90% rate, supported by the Secondary Education Union of the Tunisian General Labour Union.

The tension has existed between the government and the sector for three years due to disagreements over the increase in special grants and professional promotions, in addition to the Union’s accusation of the Ministry of Education of reneging on previous agreements.

This move comes as part of a series of protests the Union has been carrying out in recent years, including strikes and refusal to reveal exam results to students.

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However, the boycott has caused a state of tension in some governorates on Monday. Students’ Parents have carried out protests in front of the secondary schools, while student protesters set fire to rubber wheels in the middle of the roads and threw stones at secondary schools. Security forces intervened in some cities to disperse protesters.

Education Minister Hatem Ben Salem has threatened to take strict legal action in response to the teachers’ boycott of exams, while the head of the Secondary Education Union Lassaad Al-Yaakoubi said that the Union supports the dialogue, but will hold on to its demands.

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