Fighting for Salary [Archives:1998/17/Reportage]

April 27 1998

Teaching is the noblest profession and teachers are the most respected professionals. In other words, the teachers deserve to be given full support and substantial assistance due to their pivotal position in society. This respected position of teachers in the society made the American ex-president Ronald Reagan say that this century will finish with the availability of tourist journeys to space. And, as the president suggested, the teacher should be the first person to travel to space in such tourist trips. This suggestion genuinely shows the sacredness of the profession of teaching and the respect granted to teachers in the Western World, owing to their indispensable role in enlightening the society.
Unfortunately, the case in our society is actually the reverse. They are, particularly in Taiz, completely humiliated and their dignity is inexplicably tarnished. Thinking of their payment, one finds no parallel between it and the time spent and effort made at their work. Moreover, they are not paid on time. They have to wait for 10 days or sometimes 15 days after the supposed date of payment to receive their salaries.
I was very appalled to see such humiliation to the teachers in Taiz, who have to stand in queues inside the yard of the education office waiting for something called ‘salary’.
A furious teacher, Abdullah Al-Sufian, said: “You see what our plight is! Our patience is quickly running out. We have been waiting for more than one year for our names to be entered into the computer so we can receive our salary from the school. But maybe it is a profitable business for some people in the education office; we are still waiting for our money.”
He added; “I believe that even animals are treated better than us. We are very much humiliated.” Then he left me, cursing the day when he joined the Faculty of Education.
Another teacher, Anwar A. Hassan, his face and hair full of dust and heavily sweating started explaining his predicament: “I am teaching in a remote village in Al-Mokha and I am the only teacher at the village school. Imagine, I have to come from Al-Mokha and spend five days here in the city. How much money do you think I need for transportation and residence here in Taiz? What is left for my wife and my son who live in my village in Shara’ab? And if we complain or express our resentment at the mistreatment we receive here, we are targeted to further extortion whereby our situation gets worse and worse.”
“When we were in college, we were immensely enthusiastic to graduate and show our merit in the field of teaching. But now we are wholly frustrated by the apparently intentional obstacles we meet,” he added.
At the gate of the education office I met another teacher named Mohammed Ghalib who was slightly happy and smiling. I was enthusiastically willing to interview him. “You know it is a matter of bribery,” he said, adding, “I have just given a go-between YR500 and he has been able to get it for me and for a friend of mine without the need to stay in such long queues. If one gives “Hak Bin Hady” bribe, he will spare him-self all this hassle.”
These are some of the problems and predicaments of the teachers in Taiz, not speaking of the bureaucratic routine of this office. Besides, the people in charge of the Education office and the Finance office accuse each other of all these problems and difficulties the teachers face in receiving their salary. More cynically, it seems that these teachers are the sacrificial-goat of this dirty game and absence of accountability.
But it should be mentioned that the coming of the new director of the education office in Taiz made people feel hopeful of some change. And he came with a new spirit and intention to breathe a new life into this office. But he has been facing many obstacles that make him unable to do his job properly. Some people see their interest in maintaining the status-quo as it is. Therefore, they stand in the way of anyone who wants to improve the current situation. But the question “Who can truly put a stop to this farce in Taiz” still begs for an answer!
By Mohammed Hatem Al-Qadhi, Taiz