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Common sense, goodwill should prevail

Sep 08,2019 - Last updated at Sep 08,2019

The standoff between teachers and the government should have never deteriorated to the level where teachers boycott classrooms, and students, for no fault of their own, find their classes empty of teachers.

There is obviously a failure of communication between the Jordan Teachers Association (JTA) and the government that led to this paralysis in the negotiations between the two sides.

The JTA says that it had agreed with the government on a raise in teachers’ salaries up to 50 per cent. The government does not concede that it had committed itself to this raise, which would cost about JD110 million annually.

Whatever the merits or demerits of the two counter-positions, a way should have been found to save the school year from this sudden crisis. Students will have to bear the cost of this stalemate between the JTA and the government.

The fault in this unfortunate narrative lies on both sides. The government should have seen this standoff coming its way. There was ample time and opportunity to deal with it and avoid leaving classrooms without teachers. The government needs to develop a mechanism for dealing with labour issues in areas where they touch and impact basic and essential services.

There is such a thing called arbitration that most countries have resorted to when faced with a similar crisis. The two sides should have thought of arbitrating their differences instead of leaving things to deteriorate in unacceptable proportions.

It is never too late to defuse the standoff between the JTA and the government with goodwill and common sense. Meanwhile, teachers should end their strike by creating favourable conditions for a just compromise. The endgame should be on a win-win basis for the sake of students and their right to education.

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