Teachers in Van ask for better conditions

Teachers in Van ask for better conditions

VAN - Radikal
Teachers in Van ask for better conditions

Some 500 teachers held a protest walk in Van on Dec.29 to protest against their conditions. DHA photo

As only a few days remain before education restarts in the quake-hit city of Van, school teachers in the city complain of poor living conditions.

Due to their quake-damaged houses, many teachers live in other housing such as large shipping containers or preschools and have complained about the living conditions. Among the teachers’ complaints are communal living standards, such as communal toilets shared by more than 40 people, heating and the inability to cook.

“This is like a prison. The only difference is we are free to leave. We cannot cook here and eating out is expensive for our budgets. I am single, but married couples also live with us. We are ready to sacrifice our needs, but support is needed urgently,” said a teacher from Bostaniçi High School, preferring to remain anonymous.

Schools in the province have been closed since a 7.2-magnitude earthquake hit the city Oct. 23. Although the school term has been delayed three times so far, schools are set to start Jan. 2, 2012. More than 60 teachers died in the quake.

To prepare for the new term, about 5,000 teachers have come to Van and live in containers, preschools and some houses provided by Turkey’s Housing Development Administration [TOKİ]. However, the teachers say their basic living conditions are not sufficient.

“TOKİ houses are not better than the containers. Ten people live in the same room, and rent has risen to 1,000 Turkish Liras,” another teacher living in a container said. “We do not stay in our houses but pay rent to keep our stuff in them.”

A teacher living in a preschool said conditions were very cold. “There are electric heaters, but there is not enough electricity. I have waited three days for my turn to shower.”

Meanwhile, one person was killed and five were injured in a tent fire in Van.

The incident occurred early on the morning of Dec. 30 in the tent of the Zengin family. Aynur Zengin, 20, died in the fire, which was caused by a spark from a stove. Five other members of the family are still in hospital.