Indefinite teachers strike in Slovakia has started

Indefinite teachers strike in Slovakia has started

Teachers in Slovakia have begun an indefinite strike today. They demand higher wages, more money to be invested into education and changes in the system of teachers’ further education. The strike is organized by the Initiative of Slovak Teacher (ISU; www.isu.sk) which is an independent network of teachers regardless of union affiliation.

Today a demonstration took place in Bratislava despite bad rainy weather with around 1500-2000 teachers, pupils and supporters present. Among the speakers there were strike committee members as well as representatives of the doctors’ union, nurses and obstetricians (who gave notices en masse at the end of November 2015 to fight for higher wages; next week the notice period ends for several hundreds of those who have stood the enormous intimidation and harassment until now) and a few public figures on the part of the parents.

Protesters later moved from a square in the center to the building of the parliament where the protest ended.

There were around 300 schools closed and some hundreds in limited operation today (there are around 5000 schools in Slovakia). More than 11 000 teachers took part from over 720 elementary, primary and secondary schools altogether.

Priama akcia (IWA Slovakia)

Source (+photos): http://www.priamaakcia.sk/Indefinite-teachers-strike-in-Slovakia-has-sta...

You will find more information about events that led to the strike in the next External bulletin of the International Workers’ Association.

Posted By

MT
Jan 25 2016 20:45

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jura
Feb 3 2016 19:09

MT
Feb 3 2016 19:36

I was given a word that something will be written here, but you know how it is with fairytale creatures that forget their passwords:)

fingers malone
Feb 3 2016 20:18

Hey just to say that this thread is really interesting, thanks

jura
Feb 4 2016 17:09

I don't have much news to add today, only that the decline in teachers currently on strike has slowed down a bit (but it's still there). Almost 7400 are still on strike from almost 600 schools. I don't think the Ministry released a figure of schools that are closed down today. There are many meetings at schools tonight, aimed mostly at parents. I've read something about a large demonstration in Bratislava on Feb 10, but it hasn't been announced yet. No actions seem to be planned in Bratislava for tomorrow.

Edit: According to the Ministry, 43 schools were completely shut down today.

jura
Feb 6 2016 08:09

On Friday, 34 schools were closed according to the Ministry. Today's ISU figures are 6576 teachers on strike from 576 schools

Bambuľka kvantová
Feb 7 2016 16:18

What's the situation like in the regions? Any direct info from contacts? Have the strikers managed to build a strike fund yet? I can't imagine this going on in the poor regional schools without some kind of material grassroots support...
Unbelievable that this is happening for two weeks now, in a passive country such as Slovakia! I am gutted that I can't be much help as I live in the UK now... sad

majo
Feb 7 2016 20:33

As far as I know, there is this initiative for financial help from the public: pomoz.sk, which is being endorsed by ISU, but is seen as an independent initiative.
Meanwhile, there are currently 600 nurses who quit job, most of them in regions -- Presov and Zilina. Perhaps a trivia to the above discussion of the role of party-politics influence on this current struggles (eastern Slovakia being alleged stronghold of SMER, Bratislava liberal): I have just read that according to some polls, larger part of population agrees with their strike then with the one of teachers. The government is not willing to negotiate anything with the nurses (just as with the teachers), but my impression is, that the PM adopted somehow more tamed rhetoric.
But I am unfortunately also relying on information and impressions from media only.

jura
Feb 8 2016 18:49

The meeting today at the Faculty of Arts (Comenius University in Bratislava) was attended by about 200 – 250 people (according to media reports), mostly university teachers (various faculties) and students, but also a sizable group of ISU people and striking teachers. Some of the speeches weren't too good, but the important thing is that shortly after the public meeting, the "Initiative of University Teachers" (IVU) was founded with its own strike committee. This could mean that some of the universities will soon join the striking elementary and high school teachers – the question is if it's not too late.

jura
Feb 8 2016 18:54

BTW, the problem with Pomoz.sk is that they have collected over €40k but the teachers are apparently too ashamed to ask for the money.

Bambuľka kvantová
Feb 8 2016 21:12

Hi
amazing news from the academic/student meeting! On what grounds is the uni strike being considered? As purely in solidarity with teachers or including some other demands?
I looked at the support website that Majo posted, thank you. For non-Slovak readers: teachers can claim a partial reimbursement of their living costs while on strike. They just need to fill in an individual online form, clearly stating their personal and family circumstances and get it confirmed by a strike coordinator at the given school. Great tool but I can see why some teachers may feel embarrassed about it. An alternative could be collecting these claims among the staff and claiming it collectively per school, and dividing it between themselves afterwards... but I guess the painful issue of talking about your money and debt situation with colleagues would still remain, or would even be worse for some than doing it individually online.
Thanks for updates!

jura
Feb 9 2016 13:37

I believe it's supposed to be a pure sympathy strike. We'll see what the plan is in the next few days. For Slovak readers, here's an informative clip from the meeting.

Here's a full unedited video of yesterday's speeches.

MT
Feb 9 2016 17:41

And check out the statements of ISU and IVU (latest three pieces in the Press releases section on www.isu.sk - in Slovak only). I recommend especially the video version because it contains also questions from the media.

MT
Feb 10 2016 19:29

A happening was called for today at Námestie SNP square in Bratislava city center. It was meant to be a kind of "thank you" event to celebrate the ending of the strike and its continuity in regards to the university teachers. Compared to the previous students demo this was much better in terms of general mood, speeches and numbers (I would say there was at least as many people as on the first demo, when the strike was announced).

There was an idea on Facebook by some parents to organize marches to the city center and I think 4 city quarters joined. I took part in one of the marches of parents, teachers, students and people from the neighbourhood. It started after a speech of one of the parents (an independent local (civic activist) politician as I was told later) that I have to say was very touching and there were even tears on some faces (it was a homage to the teachers who stood up and said that they are not satisfied with things and took action). A crowd of slightly more than 100 people then walked approximately 5 kilometres to the city center and grew to about 130 by the time we reached the square with a main banner simply saying "Thank you, teachers. A march in support of the teachers". To be honest, I did not expect such a big number of people in the march. I also did not expect the number of people already in the square (my guess would be about 1500-2000). There were teachers and students from different parts of Slovakia (another unexpected thing for me).

Among other things, the people from IVU strike committee repeated that if the demands are not fulfilled the universities will start an indefinite solidarity strike on Monday next week for the demands put forward by ISU. There is a mobilization going on these days in the universities and it is already clear that several faculties of the Faculty of Arts (Comenius University in Bratislava) would take part in the strike. The ISU website was updated and university teachers can use it now to register themselves as strikers.

There are already rumours about intimidation at the universities but I would not take them for a fact at the moment (although they are probable).

MT
Feb 10 2016 19:30

Btw., the media published several pre-election polls and all of them show that SMER is going down since the beginning of the strike (but still above 30%). It might not be correct to put this into correlaction with the strike because other "scandals" of the ruling party ahve been exposed in recent weeks, but I would say that the capitalists behind the party could become nervous in next few weeks if enough universities or faculties really go on strike.

MT
Feb 10 2016 19:56

I forgot to mention a proposal by a representative of the Initiative of Slovak Parents. He said in his speech that they ask parents not to send their kids to school on Fridays until the government starts negotiations with the teachers and that they will wear green ribbons until the elections. The idea of not sending kids to school has beenh debated for some time by parents. It has some legal limitations (simply put, it is illegal to keep your child at home) but there are also ways how to at least partially really go on with this legally. I have not been following this initiative, so I can't say how widespread it is and how many parents are really taking part.

Bambuľka kvantová
Feb 10 2016 23:12

Just a minor correction and clarification: After three weeks the strike has been suspended, not ended, and as of Monday next week the strike relay baton is going to be passed on to the university staff and students. NO UNIONS involved, everything self-organized...

MT
Feb 12 2016 13:05

Yesterday, an emergency parliamentary meeting took place dedicated to teachers and nurses and midwives. Long story short - I would say it was just a show for politicians to score some election points. In the end SMER refused opposition proposals and passed their own. I don't think anyone expected a solution from this meeting, though. The meeting lasted for about 16 hours and ended at 2.30 AM:) There was also a scandal because the balcony that public can enter during parliamentary meetings was squatted by SMER's "fanclub" consisting of aggressive pensioners but also some guys in their 20's.

Meanwhile, preparations for the beginning of the strike of university teachers are going quite well so far, but no relevant numbers are known yet except that teachers from 14 universities out of 19 have registered already. You can see the list here: http://isu.sk/zoznam-vysokych-skol/. The rest of the schools in the list are not "proper univestities" (I think colleges is not the proper term either).

IVU teachers and ISU teachers are in touch and sharing skills and knowledge where needed. There are ideas for various activities oriented towards the students and "general public" which could cover interesting topics that were not so present during the actions of ISU. I would not like to say that they are more political, as it is a rather broad term, but while ISU activities were more oriented towards parents and general conditions of teachers, in case of IVU we might see more let's say "structural and in-depth" debates with practical implications as well.

As for the initiative of parents that I mentioned in earlier posts, it seems that these are mainly parents from quite a prestige (not privately owned) elementary school. Anyway, today they kept their promise and from out of 714 pupils 504 did not come to school! This is info only from one school. I don't know how widespread their appeal has been, perhaps they will publish the numbers, if they have them.

MT
Feb 14 2016 20:55

ISU statement on suspending the strike and shifting to strike emergency

9th February 2016

Initiative of Slovak Teachers would like to first and foremost thank to 15 thousand pedagogic and specialized employees from almost a thousand of schools, who decided to show their discontent with the situation in education sector and undignified status of teachers by joining the strike. Every sixth teacher in Slovakia has participated in the strike so far. Thank you for withstanding and still keeping on!

Parents, you showed us an enormous support. Our gratitude goes to you for understanding and patience. On the other hand, we understand those of you who have heavy heart at us. However, we believe that you understand that we are on the same boat and our attempts mean a fight for better education, so that your children are happy to go to school and so that you yourselves don’t have to sponsor the school by buying everything from chalk to interactive table.

Also, we would like to thank all the trustors and headmasters that stand behind us with courage during these hard weeks. The support from union and professional organization is of great help to us. The support from thousands of parents, students, members of academia and others confirmed that our problems are not just professional but affect the whole society.

The ISU strike fully revealed the inability of the Minister of Education Mr. Draxler, who did not stand up for the teachers’ demands although repeatedly proclaiming their legitimacy. The strike also revealed utter cynicism of the Prime Minister, who instead of using his position to resolve the problems, focused on discrediting the organizers of the strike and manipulation of statistics, while more than 150 000 children were left without proper education activities or in an emergency mode.

The strike was a chance for the OZPŠaV union and its chairman Mr. Ondek to rehabilitate in teachers’ eyes for the bad handling of the 2012 strike. Unfortunately, the biggest union did not support us. Despite repeated statements of Mr. Ondek that his members can consider joining the strike, he tolerated antistrike campaign accompanied with spreading lies and threats on the lower levels of the organizational structure.

The strike has revealed one unacceptable fact to us. Although a quarter century since the Velvet Revolution in 1989 passed, totalitarian methods persist in the society reflecting itself in particular in relationship between trustor - headmaster - teacher. There were cases of intimidation across the country that have no place in democratic society.

The length of the strike makes it a historical event in Slovak history and its spontaneous organization is unique on a European level. It was organized without financial backing, political affiliation and support from the largest union, which showed that there are thousands of teachers, child care workers and specialized employees who are so much dissatisfied that, in the name of improving the situation in the education sector, are willing to waive a significant part of their income and are fighting to solve the problems they have suffered for so long.

We can say, based on hundreds of meetings, that together we were able to bust a long-time myth that teachers are passive puppets who do what are told to. Those 15 thousand strikers showed to their pupils, to the parents and in fact to the whole society how to fight in a cultivated and creative way not only for their right to dignified financial evaluation but also for the right of every child to quality education in a didactically stimulating environment.

Our strike is successful already now:
• Education has become a social topic. Teachers, public and parents are organizing, getting active, meet and talk about problems they directly face.
• After more than 25 years the society came to life without being mobilized from above and without being controlled by political or power interests.
• We have raised our voice and pointed out at many undignified, manipulative and intimidating practices in education.
• We have been able to unite and stick together.
• We have met colleagues from other schools, created a network of active pedagogues. Thanks to mutual contacts we are able to better cooperate on local as well as state-wide level.
• We have learned a lot. The strike became a school to us. We gained self-confidence, self-consciousness and ability to publicly express our opinions despite intimidation. From now on each future struggle will be easier for us.
• We proved that there is a “societal demand” to solve the problems of education HERE and NOW and not some day in the future.

We called todays’ press conference to announce that the Strike Committee of ISU decided to suspend the strike from Monday 15th February 2016 and shift to strike emergency. At the same time we are very happy that from that day the strike relay baton will be taken by university pedagogues.

We would like to point out that this is not an end. We go on. We will actively pursue fulfillment of strike demands during strike emergency, point out at the shortcomings in Slovak education sector and in particular mobilize school public.

This definitely is not an end. From Monday we return behind teacher’s desk. But the returning teachers will never be the same teachers that left the desk over two weeks ago. Slovakia is not a poor country. It doesn’t have to and MUST NOT save on education. Such saving could cost us a lot as a society in the future.

Tomorrow we continue at 17.00 at Námestie SNP square in Bratislava with a demonstration called ZRPŠ - let’s start addressing the education in the first place. Parents from several city districts organize marches to the place of the demonstration.

MT
Feb 14 2016 20:58

Statement of the Strike Committee of the Initiative of University Teachers (IVU)

9th February 2016

Following the meeting of academia that was organized by the Academic Senate of the Faculty of Arts of the Comenius University on 8th February 2016, an Initiative of University Teachers (IVU) was formed in Bratislava that formed its Strike Committee. IVU called on the academia in Slovakia to support the striking teachers.

IVU expresses its support and admiration to 15 thousand teachers who have joined the strike so far. At the same time we attach ourselves to the demands of the Initiative of Slovak Teachers (ISU) and from this day we declare a strike emergency in support of striking teachers. Our preliminary 16-members strong Strike Committee consists of university teachers from 10 faculties from several Slovak universities.

IVU does not put forward any own demands. We fully identify with the demands of ISU and call on the Slovak government to fulfill them. If the government does not fulfill ISU demands, we are ready to take the strike relay baton from the teachers and child care workers in kindergarten, elementary and high schools.

If ISU demands are really not fulfilled, we call on all the university teachers and scientific members to join an indefinite strike from Monday 15th February 2016, which means from the day when the summer semester starts at most of the universities.

In the next few days teachers and scientific members will be able to register as strike emergency participants and strikers on the ISU website (http://www.isu.sk). All the information about next steps will be shortly available at the same link.

We call on Slovak academia to join our initiative. We call on all the students of Slovak universities to publicly act in support of striking teachers and, if necessary, actively support the strike of their university pedagogues. We think that our activities and practical solidarity will lead to higher quality of education in Slovakia which we consider as absolutely necessary.

MT
Feb 14 2016 21:14

IVU leaflet “Why university students should go on strike”

1. By supporting the strike of university teachers we indirectly show gratitude to our teachers from high and elementary schools. It is to their credit that we are university students now.

2. Strike is an opportunity to practice the values that are characteristic of the university as an institution. It will be a period of intensive and critical discussions, new contacts, social engagement.

3. Some of us would like to become teachers at elementary or high schools or at university or work in the field of science and research. By supporting the strike, we add up to the effort to change the attitude of Slovak society towards the value of education and knowledge.

4. Students community is – not only in Slovak society – a traditional bearer of change and progressive thoughts. Neither today should it stay aside.

MT
Feb 14 2016 21:26

IVU leaflet on strike

1. The strike of teachers in regional education is, after years of ignorance by the government power, legitimate and just. If teachers need help, it is right to offer it to them. And who else is to support them if not their colleagues on the further education level?

2. The quality of high school graduates reflects directly onto the quality of applicants for university study. If we want to improve the quality of our applicants, there has to be a change in remuneration and financing already on the level of the high schools. That is what the Initiative of Slovak Teachers demands.

3. Teachers at the elementary and high schools are graduates of university teacher courses where we work. Let’s be in solidarity with our former students!

4. The way the society perceives teachers, including those at elementary and high schools, is closely related to how it perceives university pedagogues and scientists. If we want our social status to be improved, we have to support the improvement of the status of our colleagues in regional education.

5. The value the society gives to the education strongly affects the way it perceives the science and research. If we want more young people to be interested in working in the field of science and research, the status of teachers has to change.

6. Strike has a strong moral dimension. Our colleagues from regional education were targets of ignorance, intimidation and defamation. If we don’t stand up against this now, we will be the targets next time.

7. Yes, let’s speak about the future: contacts that we establish between us now and the experience that we gain during the strike organizing will help us enormously when we will try to push ahead our own demands related to wages, conditions and social status.

8. Solidarity that we show today will not be forgotten. We can find a strong ally in the future: at least 15 thousand employees in regional education. We have never acted side by side till this time. Let’s try it!

9. Let’s tear down the wall between us and students. Show them that we are able to socially engage in topics that concern us, and approach them as partners in dialogue.

10. Let’s bust the myth about university as an ivory tower. Turn it into a place of open discussions. The public has to have an opportunity to hear our voice.

MT
Feb 14 2016 21:35

I have translated the above mentioned four texts into English today as I think it is important not only to write reports on what's going on but to mention also how the ISU (and now also IVU) view the strike. In case you don't understand something, it could be caused by my imperfect English, so do not hesitate to ask for clarification;)

The schedule for next week is almost full and there will be meetings of university teachers and alternative lectures in several cities. There is also a meeting of the parents initiative tomorrow. I hope to be able to attend some of the scheduled activities although most of them are during the working hours:( But I hope other libcomers will write reports from those activities and will not be hesitant to write in English despite it's not their native language;)

MT
Feb 15 2016 12:58

Today I went to meetings of teachers, students and ISU representatives at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics and the Faculty of Arts of Comenius University in Bratislava.
I thought that as today is the beginning of semester only a few students would show up at 9.00, so my expectations were that 20 students would be a success at the Faculty of Mathematics and Physics. In the end, the room was almost packed and I counted slightly more than 150 attendees (majority of them students). The presentation of ISU representative was about how it all began, so the whole process that started in 2012 with rolling strike was explained. Then there were some questions from the students and the debate part was very good also because one of the university teachers who was supposed to be a moderator took an active part and added his experience when he was a high school teacher.
The dean of the faculty is supportive of the strike, so he offered one of the biggest meeting rooms for the purpose of the strike. To make it even easier, the students could sign a presence list and if they don’t go to their regular lessons but attend strike meetings they could be excused. That means that the signatures will be stored and kept secret and only if some teachers cause trouble to the absentees, the dean will check the names on the list and if the students really attended strike meetings, they will be excused.
So, all in all, there was a very nice and also fun atmosphere.

I looked forward to the Faculty of Arts and raised my expectations to 70-100 attendees. The meeting started at 11.00 and by that time the meeting room was basically full and people still kept coming. In the end I counted almost 300 people (again, mostly students). This meeting was more like an official media event related to taking the strike relay baton from the ISU. Then there was an open mic and quite a lot of people spoke.

In both faculties I heard teachers (in private talks or openly on mic) mentioning (although shortly) 1968 and/or 1989. Some mentioned what they did back then, some saw similarities in regards to the society on the move for a change. You could really feel that they think that what is going on creates changes.

In both of the meetings the bad situation (=primarily low wages and bad working conditions) of teachers was the main topic, which was sometimes really touching, especially in the context of personal stories about how people would really like to teach but cannot live a life in dignity.

I am curious about the alternative meetings during the strike and hopefully there will be some first-hand accounts here, although not by me because as I already mentioned, most of the activities are during the working hours.

Bambuľka kvantová
Feb 16 2016 15:51

Thanks for the update! I find it really hard to find any info in the media or even at isu.sk website these days. The media in general present the strike as marginal, apparently only 400 lecturers out of 11.000 in Slovakia joined in.
And I also noticed that the three striking lecturers at the university in Kosice said they would continue teaching while on strike, but giving up their wage... Is that for real?! Sounds really stupid to me.

MT
Feb 16 2016 16:32

I think it is not worthwile to concentrate on minor things (unless they are indicative of something really important). I haven't heard about the mentioned case, but can imagine it is true. I don't follow TV, only some online media, so I am not sure what type of info you lack, but I recommend to contact ISU with any ideas or comments.

vasil2
Feb 16 2016 17:33

Košice: They are striking and having "strike lectures" - explaining their students reasons why they are in strike and inviting them to the meetings instead of regular lecture.

Today there was a meeting in UPJŠ - Faculty of natural sciences with guests from IKU (iniciative of teachers from Košice - part of ISU) explaining situation in schools, their reasons to strike, actions they organised during 3 weeks of strike and possibilities of strike in elementary, high schools and universities There were striking Universitz teachers and students. Nice moments were when some of their collegues announced that they are entering strike from today and tomorrow awarding them with applause. There were around 50 students.

One more group of students at Technical Univeristy (not paedagological studies!) is organising meetings in student dormitories and planning some activities during the strike starting in thursday (which is late a bit).
At Universitz of Pavol Jozef Šafárik (UPJŠ) They are planning to organise meeting with academics to express that they have not simmiliar opinion with the dean. Not shure if they will enter the strike.
All in all the experience and skills with organising both students and university teacers is still in the cradle. But i see a possitive light with building a net of contacts at the end of the tunnel.s.

MT
Feb 16 2016 20:51

Here is one more translation of ISU statement.

ISU balance sheet

15th February 2016

Initiative of Slovak Teachers would like to present the balance sheet of the longest strike in the history of Slovakia:

During the three weeks approximately 15 thousand teachers from 1000 schools joined the strike. More than 400 thousand hours of classes were not taught.

The strike was accompanied by:

• 17 demonstrations and marches (Bratislava 3x, Košice 2x, Banská Bystrica, Levice, Nové Zámky, Topoľčany, Nitra, Martin, Ružomberok, Poprad, Hlohovec, Brussels, London, Brno),

• Human chains in 17 cities (Bratislava, Košice, Prešov, Žilina, Martin, Banská Bystrica, Nitra, Poprad, Prievidza, Trenčín, Trnava, Partizánske, Lučenec, Pezinok, Topľčany, Rimavská Sobota, Komárno) attended by approximately 12 thousand people.

• 7 concerts, more than 15 charity actions (cooking and helping the homeless, blood donations, cleaning public spaces), hundreds of meetings and discussions at schools, caffes, libraries or bookshops for teachers, parents but also citizens in which thousands of people participated. It is possible that we were not informed about all support actions.

• Initiative of Slovak Teachers published more than 30 statements, open letters or press releases addressed to the Minister, Prime Minister, union, universities and church schools, Human Rights Court of Justice in Strasburg, EU Chairman or Commissioner for Human education, as well as balance sheets and responses to untrue information.

• ISU sent 306 474 emails. Of these 200 718 were read and people clicked on 20 004 links during the three weeks of strike.

• Initiatives of parents and students were formed pursuing our demands. Massive support from known figures and organizations is still growing: http://isu.sk/podporuju-nas.

• Initiative of Slovak Teachers was supported by 9809 people via an e-form.

Education became an important social and political topic thanks to the strike, and there is a consensus among experts that the problems have to be solved. Despite being reproached by opponents of the strike for our informality, we consider the fact that pedagogic and specialized employees joing the strike only because of their own conviction as a key moment that speaks of the acuteness of the accumulated problems in Slovak education system.

Bambuľka kvantová
Feb 16 2016 23:25

Thanks for your replies! I've just listened to a radio interview with a member of IVU strike committee from yesterday and he nicely summed it up: This solidarity strike is breaking down the long established barriers between different types of education employees across the country. From now on, each new government will be facing a stronger, more unified adversary. He also said that mobilization of other types of public sector workers for their own interests is entirely legitimate and welcome.
I also watched a short video from an assembly at the Faculty of Arts, Comenius University, with an academic from the Department of Politics similarly talking about the joint interests of teachers from all levels of the education system.

I wish them, and to us too, a steep learning curve! As some teachers are saying now: "We got back to school... The strike became a school for us!" smile

jura
Feb 17 2016 16:52

Here's some information in English, including an interview with an ISU member and one of the IVU strike committee members:

http://www.rtvs.sk/radio/archiv/1487/395507

The relevant part starts at about 04:34 and includes a general introduction of the wider context.

MT
Feb 17 2016 19:29

I managed to attend two meetings today. One was at Faculty of Arts about the everyday life of a teacher and the other one in the main aula that is used by several faculties of Comenius University in a nearby building (three speeches of some professors).

At the first meeting around noon 3 ISU teachers and 1 IVU teacher (as a moderator) participated. Teachers spoke about how they became teachers and what they do. Among the topics that were raised in the following debate were mainly:

- Feminization of the sector and its historical roots. This was quite an interesting short speech of a sociologist (who joined the strike) about how it is related to the post-war boom in primary sectors of the economy and in industry. In the 50's the wage gap started to show and education became a rapidly feminized sector, which it still is.

- Inovations. People spoke about how the system is limiting them, about the attitude on the side of the kids and parents to just go for good marks and then diploma (in contrast with for example Finland where kids are evaluated by other methods than marks and how this was tried in one of the Slovak schools where the ISU member teaches and met with hostile response of parents, who however changed their mind after some time and welcome this step), about some teachers who are not able to attract kids to enjoy learning etc.

- Behaviour of kids these days. Mostly good experiences were mentioned by teachers but the debate was also about kids who are able to destroy the learning atmosphere in the classroom and methods how to solve such situations.

Very nice and friendly debate and atmosphere with slightly more than 50 people (mostly students) in the room for most of the time.

As for the evening debate, the aula was full which should be around 350 people (mostly students again). I had to leave during the second speech, but the first speech was about how teachers should have good values, how we should be proud of our alma mater, how every society needs to build elites etc. Arrggh. I left the place very soon:) Then there was something which I guess was about material conditions. I saw some photos of school buildings in a bad shape, but after the first speech I preferred to rather chat outside the aula, so I really can't say what the remaining two speeches were about.

As for the other news. The number of universities where there is at least one teacher who joined the strike rose to 18. The ISU website now informs about concrete faculties that are affected: http://isu.sk/zoznam-vysokych-skol/

Students are trying to mobilize but I can't tell about anything significant yet. There are some problems now in Košice because of some rector or dean, who refuses to give permission to use the spaces of the university for other than teaching purposes (vasil can correct me, I am not completely sure, if I understood it correctly).

Teachers from different faculties that are not on strike are trying to meet to decide if they join, so we have to see how successful are these meetings. I think on Tuesday or Monday evening teachers from 15 universities participated and you see today it is 18. On the other hand the numbers are rather low, but I forgot the exact numbers compared to the number of all uni teachers in Slovakia. But I guess they grow and it doesn't seem that the strike is about to end yet.

There is a demonstration tomorrow (besides many other things) in Bratislava. I am very curious about how many people come.