Hundreds protest to elect university deans, increase research funding

Nearly 700 teaching staff from several Egyptian universities protested on Sunday outside the cabinet building in downtown Cairo, demanding the removal of Higher Education Minister Moataz Khorshid, the replacement of university heads, and better pay.

The demonstration followed a mass protest on Saturday by government-paid schoolteachers, who called for higher salaries and the removal of Education Minister Ahmed Gamal Eddin Moussa.

The Sunday protesters have launched a union made up of teaching staff from universities in Cairo, Alexandria, Helwan and Minya.

Demonstrators hoisted banners demanding university leaders be elected rather than appointed, more accountable university budgets – with separate budgets for scientific research – and the improvement of working conditions for university staff.

"We will continue protesting until the government responds to our demand for electing university leaders, the majority of whom, including the minister himself, are affiliated with the old ruling regime," said Khaled Abdel Moneim, 30, an assistant professor at Cairo University.

In late August, Khorshid announced a new law regulating academic elections, setting 24 September as the voting date.

But Abdel Moneim contended that the law only concerns the election of 140 out of 4000 of university staff nationwide.

Abu Bakr Abdel Rahim, 33, a teaching assistant at Al-Azhar University, said the protesters' primary demand is improving scientific research.

“We have lots of ideas but lack the funding. Most of of our university researchers [have had to] finance their own work," he said.

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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