Kirkuk’s teachers and other staff who give education in Kurdish have three demands for Iraq’s Council of Ministers and President. Their demands include getting their salaries directly from the Federal Government in Baghdad instead of KRG (Kurdistan Regional Government), and to be treated as Iraqi citizens.
The teachers made their demands public at a press conference in Kirkuk today (26 July 2020), at which they stressed that they represent nearly 8000 teachers in Kirkuk.
One of the teachers, Sara Jawhar Muhammad, read a statement at the press conference: “We request the Iraqi government to help 8000 families get out of their misfortune. Because it is already July and we haven’t been paid our salaries for the month of March.”
“We demand serious efforts to be taken to transfer our staff registry from KRG’s Education Ministry to the Iraqi government, since we are residents of this city.”
Another part of the statement read: “a part of KRG’s budget share from the Iraqi government should be set apart and directly put in a bank in Kirkuk, and from that salaries of educators in Kurdish be paid every month and without cuts.”
In Kirkuk province there are 7,751 teachers and other staff who provide education in Kurdish to 100,000 students at 500 schools.
At the press conference, Sara Jawhar added: “We’ve been teaching [in Kurdish] since 2003. According to Article 4 of the Iraqi constitution, the Kurdish language is an official language. And we are this city’s residents according to a consensus from 1957; we are registered residents of Kirkuk. We consider it our right to be registered on our city along with our service records.”
“We demand to be treated as Iraqi citizens, and our issue to be considered an Iraqi issue, not a political one.”
Since 2014, the KRG is unable to pay civil servants’ salaries on time. Salaries are slashed, paid late and only once in three to four months. KRG promised to pay back the withheld part of their salaries when possible.
In the past six years educators in Kurdish have demanded several times their salaries paid directly by the Federal Government, but there hasn’t been a response to their demands.
The latest statement comes from the Committee for Discontent Teachers and the Stance Commission, two advocacy groups set up to defend the rights of Kurdish education staff.
In the statement, they say if they don’t get a respond within 15 days, they will take other measures, including protests and strikes.