KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A teachers strike demanding higher pay has shut down at least 27 schools in Afghanistan's capital, officials said Tuesday.
Fazel Ahmad Fazel, the newly appointed head of a national teachers' council, said Tuesday that 80 schools were closed in Kabul alone, and that teachers were on strike in at least 18 of Afghanistan's 34 provinces.
But Fazel Ahmad Harderi, deputy head of Kabul's Department of Education, says just 27 schools in the capital are closed, down from 55 at the start of the protests last week.
It was not immediately possible to resolve the conflicting accounts. Kabul has a total of 284 schools.
Teachers in Afghanistan are poorly paid and often do not receive their salaries for months on end because of the government's cash-flow problems. The Education Ministry has said it is holding daily meetings with teacher representatives to try to resolve the latest dispute and reopen the schools.
The teachers have expressed sorrow over cancelling classes, but say they feel they have no other choice.
Ahmadullah Alkozai, a striking teacher from Kabul's Ghazi high school, said he has been teaching for 27 years and still doesn't own a home. He is among 180 teachers at the now-closed school, which has 4,500 students.
"I am so upset for my students that the school is closed, but I had no other choice," he said, adding that the strike will continue until the teachers' demands are met.
"The strike will continue until we get our rights from the government," said Fazel, the head of the teachers' council.