100,000 Bangladesh teachers walk out class to demand nationalization of jobs

More than 100,000 primary school teachers walked out of class across Bangladesh on Wednesday to demand the nationalization of their jobs, a leader of the protest said. The teachers were protesting the government's failed promise to nationalize about 23,000 private primary schools in order to improve wages, said Mohammad Shamsul Alam, president of the Bangladesh Nongovernment Primary Teachers Association.

Alam told reporters at a rally in the capital,Dhaka, that teachers would continue boycotting classes until June 8 in an attempt to force the government to act. More than 500 private primary school teachers, many wearing black armbands as a sign of protest, marched through downtown Dhaka as police stood guard. About 27 protesters started a hunger strike Tuesday near the country's administrative headquarters in Dhaka, Alam said.

"We are helpless. We serve the nation but we can't run our family," Alam said at the rally. "We want nationalization of our jobs." Private school teachers now make about 2,000 takas (US$30; 23) to 2,800 takas (US$41; 31) a month. Teachers at nationalized primary schools earn more than 4,000 takas (US$58; 45) monthly and receive benefits, according to the Ministry of Education.

Alam said Prime Minister Khaleda Zia earlier promised to nationalize their jobs, but the pledge has yet to come to fruition. Her five-year term expires in October. Officials at the Ministry of Education declined to comment, reports the AP.


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