If you can read this, thank a teacher – reflections on World Teacher’s Day and human rights in Bahrain
Written by Lucy Barnett, Country Coordinator for Bahrain and United Arab Emirates.
Teachers… you remember the ones who bored you to tears, the ones who spoke like drones and seemingly had no passion for their subject. The ones you remember most though are the ones who brought their subject to life, and inspired a love of their subject within you, often to the point where you chose to pursue a career in it because of them. No matter where on this spectrum a teacher falls, teachers have a hard job and are often underappreciated.
There’s a lot to love about teachers
How a country treats its teachers is a barometer of its political health - this is why teaching is the most unionised profession in the whole world.
That’s why UNESCO founded World Teacher’s Day in 1994 – in different ways in different countries, teachers are not given the respect they deserve, and their job is made incredibly difficult.
World Teacher’s Day is on 5 October every year and its aim is to take time out to look at and address the issues that teachers face all over the world.
Teachers hold an enormous part of the responsibility of making children into global citizens. It is both because of and despite this that they face a massive amount of criticism. And in Bahrain, being in a teacher’s union is not something easy to do.
Mahdi Abu Dheeb is a teacher from Bahrain who knows this all too well. As the founder and leader of the Bahrain Teachers’ Association, he was seized on 6 April 2011 by police – just because he called for a strike. Mahdi was then subjected to 64 days in solitary confinement. According to the UN, subjecting someone to more than 15 consecutive days in isolation is torture.
Imagine if your favourite teacher was in prison – just for doing their job
For many students in Bahrain, this is an all too real situation. If their favourite teacher is imprisoned for calling for a strike, then sadly it is not too much of a shock. This is difficult to imagine in the UK where there are two huge teaching unions, and you’ll be hard pushed to meet a teacher in the UK who is not a member of one.
Not only this, but Mahdi has been denied his medicine for hypertension and diabetes since March of this year.
Call for Mahdi’s freedom
Mahdi has served over half of his reduced sentence. That’s two and a half years too long. You can take action - Demand the Bahraini authorities free Mahdi
Next time you meet a teacher, stop to congratulate them on how awesome they are - they’ll thank you for it.
Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.