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Libya: teachers go back to work after agreement to raise salaries

Many schools in Libya have reopened as teachers return to work following a union announcement on Saturday night about the suspension of the strike that started in September. "Classes will resume based on the agreement by the union with the House of Representatives to raise teachers' salaries, and the decision to separate the Ministry of Higher Education from the Ministry of Primary Education," explained union leader Abdel Nabi Al-Naf.

The union said on Saturday that the authorities in Libya have pledged to amend salaries according to the law to be implemented by the House of Representatives in the coming days.

"Schools in the western, southern and eastern areas have opened their doors for students to start the school year after the union's statement," Salem Naqouzi, a member of the Central Region Teachers' Coordination Committee, told Al-Araby Al-Jadeed. "The two governments of Tripoli and the east have pledged to begin the procedures of adjusting teachers' salaries."

Naqouzi stressed that the government division has not affected the unity of teachers. "They were able to impose their demands on the two governments, and to force the authorities to unify their position on the teachers' situation."

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A spokesman for the General Union of Teachers, Ashraf Abou Rawi, stressed that the union's meeting with the head of the Presidential Council and its members has resulted in an agreement to start the new school year. "The teachers' demands have been clear from the beginning," he explained, "represented by social justice in the salary scale, the activation of health insurance, the separation of the education sector into two ministries and the abolition of decisions to dismiss school principals and teachers."

The education sector in Libya has been suffering from the repercussions of the dual governments in Tripoli and Benghazi. Although the Ministry of Education of the Government of National Accord (GNA) announced in mid-November the beginning of the new school year and the end of the teachers' strike, pledging to review the salaries of all government sectors to make them equal, the General Union of Teachers, based in the eastern city of Al Bayda, confirmed its members' continuation of the strike until it ended on Saturday.

The union decision came after the Minister of Education in the Government of the House of Representatives, announced last week the formation of a committee to communicate with the teachers' unions to reach a satisfactory solution to start the new school year.

The escalating crisis forced the GNA's Education Minister, Othman Abdel Jalil, to resign at the end of October in protest against the government's decision to separate higher education from primary education.

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