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Bulgarian teachers’ strike: a case of “street law”
November 21st, 2016

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Bulgarian teachers’ strike: a case of “street law”
October 11, 2007
"We decided to discuss current issues in society from a Street Law perspective, and the teachers' strike is an obvious choice of topic right now," says Mariana Ivanova of Emilian Stanev high school in Sofia, co-ordinator of the School Plus network in Bulgaria.

Street Law is one of the programmes in the School Plus "curriculum" (see the Programmes section on this site for details).

“Our strike is clearly connected to the future of education in Bulgaria. We want our children to be able to make their lives in Bulgaria. We, their teachers, are fighting for their right to receive a decent education in their home country. We’re teaching them how to fight for their rights!” says Mariana, writing from Sofia.

One of the participants in Mariana’s Street Law group, Lilyana Tchukova, describes how she feels about the teachers’ strike:

“Personally, I support our teachers' strike. Nowadays, many people can't understand what is the real point of all this. I'm sure that it is not only a matter of money, but fight for rights, honour. These people protect and fight for our (students') interests. They want the government to give more money for education, so that the literacy rate can be improved. I can call these people brave, they are ready to deny their families from financial support for whole month, but to protect proudly their rights. The teachers are struggling with the government for better life, for them and their families, and for more and better educated students.”

[In an update on Monday, 15 October, Mariana told us some 75,000 teachers from all over Bulgaria converged on Sofia to demonstrate. But, she says, the government isn't giving an inch.] “Bulgarians living abroad are taking initiatives to help Bulgarian teachers,” Mariana says. “The whole EU must know what is happening in Bulgaria. We need help.”

The photo on the home page accompanying this item shows Mariana (bottom left) with her colleagues Viloleta Milova and Krazimira Alexandrova, in protest out on the streets of Sofia, together with members of her Street Law group: Alexander Dikov, Veronica Petrova, Anastasia Brzitsova, Chatizhe Osman and Lilyana Tchukova. The pupils themselves wanted to join the protests, Mariana says.

Mariana is doing Street Law for the second year with her class, and is being assisted by school psychologist Lidia Lindrova. The Street Law project is called Habeas Corpus. (*)

"Habeas Corpus" is a law that exists in many countries. It states that a person cannot be kept in prison unless he or she has been brought before a judge or a magistrate, who must decide whether it is lawful for that person to be kept in prison. (Definition taken from Collins’ Cobuild English Dictionary)

The following is background on the teachers’ strike in Bulgaria taken from Sofia News Agency (http://www.novinite.com/view_news.php?id=85879):
The teachers walked off the job Monday 1 October, demanding higher wages and increased government spending on education. They want a 100% pay rise starting from next year, and an allocation of at least 5% of the country's GDP for education.
The average monthly wage of Bulgarian teachers is BGN 440 (EUR 226), according to the government.
Despite discrepancy in the figures released by the trade unions and the education ministry about the strike, it has wreaked havoc at schools across Bulgaria at the very beginning of the academic year. State schools and kindergartens cancelled classes and sent children home.

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