Palestinian Territory – The serious potential consequences of continued disruption to the West Bank public schools due to the Palestinian government’s delay in meeting strike teachers’ demands are extremely concerning, said Euro-Med Monitor in a statement.
Hundreds of schools in the West Bank have not been operating regularly since 5th February, after teachers declared a full strike in response to Herak al-Mu’alemeen (Teachers’ Mobility Movement) calls.
The strike was declared in reaction to the government’s decision to withdraw from the implementation of an initiative for civil institutions specialised in education last May. This action was accepted by all parties involved and aimed to resolve the crisis in public schools.
The proposed initiative at the time included five basic items: approving the education profession system, democratising trade union representation for teachers, addressing the issue of nature-of-work allowances to enable teachers to receive a 15% increase beginning in 2023, cancelling deductions, punitive administrative and financial procedures, and returning to regular working hours and compensating the students.
It is critical to recognise the magnitude of the consequences for the educational process and the future of the school year. The Palestinian government should follow through on previous agreements with teachers and refrain from using punitive measures, such as deductions and resorting to the judiciary to end the strike.
The Administrative Court’s order on 13th March to end the teachers’ strike is legally flawed as it was issued in a private trial session where the defendants were not informed of the court’s decision, infringing on their right to a fair trial.
The right to education is one of the fundamental human rights that should not be violated or denied to people, as it is critical to the awareness of other human rights, women’s empowerment, and the protection of children from various forms of exploitation.
The continued violation of the right to education of hundreds of thousands of students in the West Bank may have serious consequences, including poor academic achievement and school dropouts which will lead to increased child labour rates.
The Palestinian government must take immediate steps to ensure the resumption of the school year through dialogue with teachers, be prepared to fulfil previous commitments in this regard, withdraw all punitive measures and financial deductions imposed in response to the strike, and cease any threats of deductions and additional penalties.
The signatory parties to the first initiative to end the crisis should take more effective measures to pressurise the government to ensure the initiative’s implementation, take all possible measures to end disruptions in the educational process, and protect the right to education as a fundamental human right.