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The way forward

Oct 05,2019 - Last updated at Oct 05,2019

All of us would have preferred for the government and the Jordan Teachers Association (JTA) to reach an agreement regarding teachers' pay before the start of the school year so that our students would have been able to start the year on time.

This was not possible, and learning for public school students was disrupted.

Now that the Higher Administrative Court has issued a verdict confirming suspension of the teachers' strike, the strike should be halted immediately, so that students and teachers can join their classes and make up for lost time.

Rule of law is sacred, and all should abide by the court's verdict.

This does not mean that the "problem" has ended, and that all will be milk and honey or business as usual.

The teachers have legitimate demands, and these need to be duly addressed.

All Jordanian citizens sympathise and empathise with teachers, who are paid less than they should be.

But what it means is that the minute students are in their classes receiving the education they should be receiving, all those involved — the government, the JTA, the teachers, and other stakeholders — can sit down to address the situation honestly, ably and efficiently.

One says the "situation", and not just the "pay", as the matter is much more complex.

The teaching profession, we are  reminded, has been going downhill for decades in terms of pay, teachers' social status, morale, work conditions, school environment, capacity-building, qualifications, loyalty to the profession, vision, sense of mission, etc.

The causes of the decline of the profession and the challenges standing in the way of its reform and advancement are formidable.

These, with due respect, cannot be solved by strikes, by politicisation, and by being entrenched behind stubborn positions.

Nor can they be solved by emotions and wish lists.

What is needed is an open-minded approach and a careful, sober study of the matter.

If good will prevails, those directly involved can negotiate in good faith and come up with carefully studied, realistic measures to reverse the decline of the profession and start putting it on track.

Reform of the teaching profession and improvement of teachers’ conditions take time. It is a process that needs to unfold over time.

Yes, some quick measures are needed, but other long-term measures are also crucial.

To this end, all those involved should coordinate, cooperate and work hard, making use of experts in the field to come up with a solid action plan that addresses all aspects of the matter and makes a difference for the teachers, the students and the country as a whole.

This is the way forward. 

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