Political pressure on teachers intensifies

In the period from June to December, the research team and long-term observers of CIVIL came accros a series of data and statements on constant political pressure being put on teachers in several primary and secondary schools across the country. More specifically, CIVIL aquired direct knowledge of the difficult situation of teachers in five major municipalities outside of Skopje, and four educational institutions in the capital city.

"What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully?"

"What have I ever done to make you treat me so disrespectfully?"

The teaching staff has been in an increasingly difficult situation in recent years, and the pressures that are being made brings teachers in primary and secondary schools in the most humiliating position. This report is based on statements and documentation that were given to us by numerous interlocutors who insisted on anonymity, fearing for thier jobs. Nevertheless, they must be credited for daring to speak out and helping us expose the extremely harmful policies and practices of the government, which has completely politicized the education in the country.

"With so many trivial changes in the laws, so many projects for every child and every teacher, so many reforms of the Government, we have arrived to a situation in which our education is in a desperate condition." - says a high school teacher.

Teachers are facing a wide variety of discriminatory procedures, pressure, blackmail and threats that are mostly based on political affiliation of the victims of such practices. When speaking of political affiliation, it can be noticed that many of our interlocutors are, in fact, politically neutral, but have the same treatment as the supporters of the opposition. On several occasions, our team received statements from witnesses who claim that those who are politically neutral are put under even stronger pressure than the supporters of the opposition.

Concerning the education system itself, there is a situation in which instead of having teachers performing their work, they are overloaded with all sorts of administrative responsibilities, and face pressure, blackmail and threats. That encouraged the activities of the teachers who recognized the disastrous education policies of the government and demanded a stop to the bad education reforms. They came out in support of their students, and received great support from the parents of many students, which was evident from the large protests they held in late 2014 and the first half of 2015.

However, instead of meeting the needs of the students, teachers and parents, the government hurried to create a dirty campaign against the protesters, whereby the civil activism of the teachers was literally outlawed. The teachers who dared to stand up for the students' requests for a better education and against the bad reforms, faced pressures, penalties and cruel slandering.

"There are constantly pressures, of all kinds. For example, after activities of the Teachers plenum, the director has a precise list of the participants. The Director invites everyone individually for a conversation, during which he threatens and harshly  insults the 'accused'. Any engagement in the plenum or in any of the 'marked' organizations such as Civil is characterized as a betrayal, whereby, these initiatives and organizations are called by various names such as 'illegitimate, treacherous, criminal, sorosoids, dark forces', and many more. And you must listen to it"- says a group of teachers in a municipality in Macedonia.

Because of thier "political ineligibility" and "disobedience" towards the party appointed managerial staff in schools, the teachers are facing penalties and dismissals, non-extension of employment contracts, drastically reduced number of classes, more specifically, reduced salaries. In addition to being supervised by their managers, the "disobedient and unfit" teachers are supervised and frequently under pressure from party soldiers from among their fellow colleagues.

Nonetheless, we learn that all employees within the educational institutions in which we have our sources are under pressure to draw up lists of "secured voters", as is the case with employees in other parts of the public administration and public enterprises, as we recently reported in the report titled "CIVIL reveals cases of fierce political pressure."

The government is controlling and is performing political pressure through the Ministry, more specificaaly, through the Bureau for Education, which is conducting abnormally intense visits and inspections. Usually these inspections are announced, but this is done only for the "eligible" teachers, not for the other teachers.

According to our sources, in September 2015, assistant directors and class teachers in secondary schools were dissmissed, or had thier classes taken away for supporting the Secondary Plenum.

CIVIL Research Team

The CIVIL research team has a large number of reports for other conditions in the education as well, and many other forms of political pressure in the educational institutions across the country, for which it will prepare new reports over the coming weeks.

We encourage teachers and other stakeholders to continue submitting reports on political pressure and human rights violations within the educational institutions.

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