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Protest march in Morocco against abolition of free education

Young Moroccan school teachers hold banners as they protest against their current status in the capital Rabat on March 24, 2019. The banner reads in Arabic "No to contractual jobs". - The police dispersed during the night a gathering of teachers who reportedly attempted to camp in front of the parliament, demanding permanent contracts within the national education system. (Photo by FADEL SENNA / AFP / Getty)

Hundreds of labour unionists and teachers have demonstrated on Sunday in the Moroccan capital Rabat, in rejection of the abolition of free education and in demand for better conditions for teachers.

Participants in the march, called by the National Alliance for the Defence of Public Education (comprising more than 40 bodies including non-governmental organisations, parties and labour bodies), waved banners rejecting the "privatisation of education" and "the abolition of free education."

The march has started from the building of the Ministry of National Education towards the parliament building.

Participants in the march chanted slogans calling for "the maintenance of free education and the abandonment of the contract employment system."

Protesters called for better working conditions for teachers.

On Thursday, Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani denied his government's intention to abolish free education.

"There is no intention, no will to consider, and no talks about the abolition of free education. How can the state abolish it while it is increasing its budget and all its associated social and educational programs year after year?" said Othmani, during his heading of the Council of Government.

Read: Moroccan teachers protest to demand better working conditions

The Prime Minister stressed that the state and the government are giving the education sector the necessary attention, and working on supporting it to the maximum possible level so that the sector can play its role through realistic and practical procedures.

The march of Sunday has witnessed the participation of the contracted teachers, to demand the government to integrate them into public employment. The teachers held a sit-in throughout the night of Saturday, which ended with security intervention, causing a number of injuries.

In 2016, the government launched the public sector employment program under a two-year renewable contract and started implementing it in the education sector.

Each side is still holding on to its position. Teachers have been demanding integration into public employment and decided not to return to schools until the realization of their demand. The government has suggested a proposal last Saturday to introduce amendments to the law regulating their work. However, the contractors have rejected this proposal.

On 5 February, Prime Minister Saadeddine Othmani reassured the contracting professors that they would not lose their jobs. He said: "The contract concluded with those who will be working in the educational sector is not a fragile contract, but it is final with an indefinite period."


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