‘I’m sending this pen all the way from Ranya’: non-contract teachers call on KRG to sign off on demands

protesters blocking the door of the local education directorate building in Ranya. Oct 13, 2021.

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SULAIMANI — Non-contract teachers protested across the Kurdistan Region for a second consecutive day on Wednesday (October 13) demanding that the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG) grant them contracts equivalent to their other colleagues.

In Ranya, protesters blocked the door of the local education directorate building.

"We have been protesting and not attending classes. We are obliged to block this door because no one is listening to us,” a protester told NRT.

Holding a pen in his hand, another protester said "we need the signature of the head of Kurdistan’s Council of Ministers, so I’m sending this pen all the way from Ranya, asking him to sign and accept our demands.”

The KRG instituted a number of austerity measures in response to a financial crisis that began in in 2014, including creating an employment status known as "non-contract,” where teachers are paid a lump sum per class and do not receive benefits.

Their pay is lower than teachers on full contracts or those with "on-bond” status despite doing the same jobs.

There are an estimated 21,000 non-contract teachers working in the Kurdistan Region.

Many potential teachers are unwilling to take on these low-paying positions, which has resulted in a teacher shortage, particularly in rural areas.

Last week and in the week before the parliamentary election, similar protests took place across the Region.

Protesters demonstrated in Dukan, Sulaimani, and Halabja as well.

A protester outside of the Dukan Education Directorate told NRT that it is not fair that non-contract teachers work as much as the those with full contracts, but are not paid equivalently.

Other protesters complained that they have not received regular payments from the KRG.

"We are in October and we have not received February’s payment yet,” a protester outside Halabja Education Directorate said, adding that if there is a larger strike by non-contract teachers then the schools will not be able to function.

"If we are not needed, tell us to go home. But if we are, then listen to our demands,” another protester in Halabja said.

(NRT Digital Media)