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Teachers of Syrian refugee children in Lebanon protest UNICEF over low wages

Protesters claim that the wages have become very low due to the depreciation of the Lebanese lira

January 20, 2023 at 5:03 pm

Dozens of Lebanese teachers demonstrated in front of the headquarters of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in Beirut on Friday (20 January) to demand better wages and pay them in dollars, Anadolu News Agency reports.

The teachers of Syrian refugee children working in the afternoon classes have been paid by UNICEF, in addition to their salary from the Lebanese government.

One of the protesters, teacher Shahira Zaiter, who comes from Baalbek province in eastern Lebanon, said the Ministry has been paying their wages for about eight years without any problems, but that the wages have become very low due to the depreciation of the Lebanese lira.

Another teacher, Amine Shimeimish, said that UNICEF did not take any steps to change the living conditions with the new year, and the promised wages were not paid last year.

She stated that the number of students in the classrooms is very high and that they teach despite much impossibility.

“I get 100 thousand Lebanese liras (approximately 2 dollars) per lesson. A 6-pack of milk cartons is 12 dollars. What will I do with 100 thousand liras? We’re here to say to say that ‘we won’t accept this situation and the fee.”

READ: Teachers’ strike and soaring fees, Lebanon’s public school pupils miss class

On 10 January, the Ministry of Education decided to suspend afternoon classes attended by Syrian refugee students in public schools, after teachers had ended morning sessions allocated to Lebanese students.

On Thursday (19 January), UNICEF called on Lebanon, urging the immediate re-opening of public schools to end education disruption due to a strike by teachers in protest of their low salaries.

On 9 January, Lebanese teachers launched a strike as schools closed to express their discontent over devalued salaries.

Public school teachers were on strike sporadically throughout 2022, with the most recent strike lasting more than a month.

Since 2019, Lebanon has been plagued by a crippling economic crisis that, according to the World Bank, is one of the worst the world has seen in modern times.