Strikers Pile Pressure on Bulgaria's Defiant Education Minister

Politics | Author: Milena Hristova |September 28, 2007, Friday // 00:00
Bulgaria: Strikers Pile Pressure on Bulgaria's Defiant Education Minister Education Minister Daniel Valchev faced empty banks in parliament on Friday a day after striking teachers rallied against empty pockets outside the government headquarters. Photo by Yuliana Nikolova (Sofia Photo Agency)

Bulgaria's striking teachers have renewed calls for the resignation of Education Minister Daniel Valchev, saying he should bear the brunt for crippling the system.

"Minister Valchev did nothing to solve the acute conflicts in the education system after coming into office," the teachers' trade unions said in an open letter to former king Simeon Saxe-Coburg, a member of whose party Minister Valchev is.

The letter alleges that instead of bridging the gap between teachers, parents and students, the minister widened it by poor management and poor vision for the future of the education system.

"The debate on the real issues blighting the education system in Bulgaria was replaced by fruitless discussions," it says and urges Saxe-Coburg to demand Valchev's resignation.

Meanwhile Minister Valchev assured the strike does not yet call for cutting into the students' vacation time. Speaking in parliament, he said there will be no room for negotiations as long as the striking teachers stick to their demand for double wages.

Just a day earlier more than five thousand people hit to the streets in Sofia in support of the striking teachers' demands. Chanting "Victory" in front of the government headquarters, the protestors called for the resignation of education minister Daniel Valchev and threatened to cut short the school year.

Tension has been escalating since Monday when teachers across Bulgaria walked off the job 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.

Despite discrepancy in the figures released by the trade unions and the education ministry about the strike, it has wreaked havoc as state schools and kindergartens cancelled classes and sent children home.

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