In 2020, the average salary of teachers in Iran was 58 million rials [$221] per month. Mohammad Bagher Nobakht, the former head of the Planning and Budget Organization, had already vowed that this salary would increase in the following educational year. However, there is not yet a tangible advance in this context.
Shahryar Fuladvand, the head of the Education Ministry’s non-profit school’s office, had already declared the minimum salary of non-profit schools’ teachers to be 38 million rials [$145].
According to official stats, there are around one million teachers in Iran. “For many years, livelihood concerns and financial pressure have dissolved the power of generations’ makers,” wrote Kebna News website on October 12, admiring teachers for training next generation.
However, these selfless people met no response to their demands, but “we have no budget” on behalf of the ministry officials whenever they raised their voices for a fair salary and arrears. They have been convinced that the Education System does not care about their dilemmas, severely frustrating them.
Nonetheless, their hardships are not limited to financial aspects. Indeed, teachers’ social position has been challenged in recent years. After several decades of honest services, they are forced to shut down the classrooms and flood onto the streets for their inherent rights. Many have taken on additional careers such as taxi driving and street selling to make ends meet. They see a bleak future on the horizon.
On the other hand, teachers have faced deficits in educational content and the lack of proper school facilities for many years. “The educational system has yet to witness any development from 200 years ago,” said Ali Zekri, an educational expert. “Tables and benches have filled traditional schools.”
Zekri also explained that a dogmatic and soulless atmosphere had dominated educational centers. “Many schools are deprived of equipped laboratories, sports courts, and other necessities. Classrooms do not encourage students to learn,” he added.
Teachers’ Unresolved Demands
Unresolved demands and the growing rate of financial dilemmas are other issues that prompt teachers to raise their voices constantly. However, educational officials always deal with teachers’ demands with indifference, driving them to resort to other paths to gain their inherent rights.
“There is no government institution or ministry with such a volume of official arrears,” said Hessamoddin Pour-Sabet, an education official in the northeast province of Razavi Khorasan. “Lack of balance between the salary of teachers and the salary of other ministries’ employees is another concern for teachers’ society. Teachers only want to be seen like other ministries’ employees in the case of financial and livelihood fields,” he added.
According to recent studies, Agriculture Ministry employees, health staff, and teachers receive minimum wages. Among the mentioned employees, teachers’ salaries are 30 to 40 percent lower than others. Furthermore, they do not gain privileges and bonuses.
“Privileges and bonuses could ease teachers’ burden regarding the skyrocketing inflation rate. They are dealt with injustice during the past decades,” Pour-Sabet believes.
The teachers’ other demand is the implementation of the ‘Ranking Plan,’ which has yet to be responded to by the Education Ministry despite teachers’ frequent protests across the country.
“Officials always lay the blame on budget deficits,” Pour-Sabet says. However, the government has refused to pay arrears and other economic demands under the excuse of the high number of requests.
This is while the country suffers from a shortage of teachers, educators, and trainers. According to official reports, the Education Ministry lacks around 200,000 teachers to cover all schools in Iran with a curriculum. In this context, observers foresee a great crisis within the country’s most significant ministry. “Since 2018, 40,000 teachers are annually being retired on average. However, there are not appropriate people to replace with them,” they say.
Nevertheless, Iran’s educational system faces enormous dilemmas, and the government tries to resolve them at the expense of teachers. Therefore, teachers—and of course, students—are the sole victims of the education mafia in the country.
Through peaceful protests, teachers have struggled to obtain their fundamental rights in recent months. However, the government, which only understands the language of power, has yet to address these selfless people’s requirements. Such a behavior pushes teachers to find other paths—probably anti-establishment acts—to force officials to recognize their demands.
“Imprisoned teachers must be freed,” “Teachers will not give in to disgrace,” and “We never go to the classrooms until obtaining our rights,” chanted by teachers show their patience has ended, and they are looking for other ways to win their demands.