ISU: Cabinet Makes New Promises without Doing Earlier Homework

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Teachers on strike forming a human chain outside the Government Office early this week.

Bratislava, February 4 (TASR) – The Government is coming up with new promises while old commitments remain unfulfilled, Slovak Teachers Initiative (ISU) representatives told a press briefing on Thursday.

The striking teachers pointed out that the Government has yet to deliver on a parliamentary resolution dated December 2012, whereby the Cabinet was committed to come up with a report on the state of the education sector and propose systemic measures. “The Government did adopt the report, which included a rundown of the state of affairs and the problems, as well as ways to address them. However, it has yet to address the problems,” said ISU’s Branislav Kocan.

“Before we discuss new concepts, memoranda and national programmes, we’d rather the Government did the homework it received following a strike in 2012,” said Kocan, referring to the labour actions that saw many schools shut down temporarily. Using teacherese, Kocan said that despite failing to do its homework and receiving an F grade as a result, the Government wants to finish the year and pass on to the next grade. “It doesn’t work this way in the education sector,” quipped Kocan.

Prime Minister Robert Fico said on Wednesday that his party is part of a coalition after the election on March 5, the salaries of teachers will continue to be increased. “We have resources to raise their salaries by at least 25 percent during the next term,” he said. He also pledged readiness to meet the representatives of teachers and talk about issues such as the content of the national education programme. However, he ruled out any decisions involving funds before March 5.

ISU’s Jana Ftacnik Pastorkova slammed the Government for its persistent disregard for the demands of teachers, as well as for it being ill-disposed to meet the teachers halfway.

Referring to how the Governnment has been saying that under one percent of schools are still on strike, the activists counter that the number of schools involved in the strike is far higher. They say that the premier only includes schools that remain shut. “Based on our information, 17 percent of teachers and 15 percent of schools have joined in,” according to ISU’s Vladimir Crmoman.

Earlier in the day, the Education, Science, Research and Sport Ministry said that 43 schools were still closed due to the strike on Thursday, making up 0.64 percent of the total of 6,724 schools in Slovakia.

Asked about a plan ahead for the strike, Crmoman said that this is being assessed on a daily basis. New schools are joining in all the time, and public support has been rising. “That’s partly why we’ve decided to hold a major rally on Bratislava’s SNP Square on  (Wednesday) February 10 at 5 p.m.,” said Crmoman.