July 23, 2009

Tribute to a few brave teachers

"We want classes!"
"The children have the right to study.
Don't deny it to us."

At least some of the teachers' unions are notoriously corrupt, with the leaders pocketing grand sums of money to sell out the people they represent for political purposes. The teachers have been on strike since June 28, when Mel was deposed.

I have no idea why, since prior to June 28 they were on strike against Zelaya's government just about every month he has been in office.
It makes no sense to me that they would support him now, especially since the new government is paying all the back payments that Mel's administration withheld.

Thousands of teachers have gone without any pay for months on end during the past three years under Mel Zelaya. My brother-in-law went 7 or 8 months without a paycheck. Can you imagine working for 7 months without being paid?

I think the strike is most likely just to put themselves in a good negotiating position to make demands of the new government rather than any deep seated convictions about Mel, legalities, or the constitution. Or some of the leaders may have been paid by Mel.

Last week a few of the unions agreed to go back to work and this week the rest agreed to work 3 days per week. You can see in all of this there is no thought on the part of the unions for the poor children who are growing up with only a part-time education. I can and did understand striking to be paid, but this is a political matter. I don't think that children have gotten the required 200 class days yet in this decade. In some years or areas, it has been as low as 150 class days.

Often, the individual teachers don't agree with the strikes but feel pressured to follow their association. Some were even threatened with violence when they tried to teach during the past three weeks. Others have told me that they are forced to participate in the marches.

Children's rights advocates are pursuing legal action to make the teachers go back to work because they are being denied the constitutional right to an education.

But as time has gone by, many teachers just decided to do the right thing and hold classes. In some cases they were locked out of their schools, or kept out by protesters, and gave classes in playgrounds or parks under a tree.

In other cases, including at least one in La Ceiba, groups of parents guarded the schools all day long to prevent threats against the teachers who rebelled from their union! My brother-in-law got fed up with the strike and gave classes in my mother-in-law's house. I'm proud of him!

So, a tribute goes to those teachers who have decided enough is enough and have put the future of the children ahead of politics.

Update July 23: See additional information provided by readers in the comments section.

Related articles:

Honduras crisis: Teachers on strike, July 13

Hondurans work for free?, December 2006

Sound bites: Week of July 20, 2008 − by the way this article is a must read if you are under the mistaken assumption that these strikes are protests are anything new to Honduras. The media keeps reporting: "The country is paralyzed"? Hardly, we live with this kind of thing all the time.

And then just for fun, see my October 2007 suggestion to the newspapers to save trees and printing costs by using a standard checklist to indicate who is on strike each day, among other things:

Current events, October 2007
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