(MENAFN - Jordan Times) Islamists and their allies claimed victory in the teachers' central committee elections in most governorates, including the capital amid an outcry by activists protesting the "politicisation" of the professional association.
The law bans politics-based campaigning and political action within the association, but after the Ministry of Education announced the results Saturday, winners revealed their Islamist orientation.
Basel Hroub, spokesperson of the Islamic-led National Gathering Coalition, which won 35 seats out of 50 in Amman, alleged that the actual number of seats dominated by the bloc is actually 40, as five winners had preferred to run independently "for tribal considerations". He did not elaborate.
Officially, the "Islamist" bloc won the majority of seats in teachers' councils in six governorates, but its leaders claim that, along with their allies, they dominated committees in eight of the country's 12 governorates.
Thousands of teachers on Thursday picked 286 members out of the 801 candidates, to represent them on committees that will elect the association's president and council this month.
The results of the elections, which are considered a major milestone in teachers' decades-long efforts to establish their syndicate, were seen as "disappointing" by some who claim that the purpose of the association was "politicised".
"There is no doubt that the elections were integral and transparent, but the victory was for coalitions which have obvious political platforms at the expense of the education profession," Spokesperson of the Amman Free Committee Sharaf Abu Rumman told The Jordan Times on Saturday.
Sharaf agreed that the majority of winners were Islamists or their allies, who had refrained from revealing their political orientations and "ran under disguised identities".
He said that Islamists claimed more than 70 per cent of votes at the country's level and formed "alliances" with other candidates.
But Hroub insisted that it is their "purely professional" programme and the makeup of the lists that appealed to voters.
"Unlike other coalitions that include businesspeople or administrators of schools, we have chosen members who are actual teachers engaged in the profession among those who took part in the movement for the syndicate from the start," he told The Jordan Times over the phone yesterday.
"Having members with political and partisan background does not contradict by any means with the purpose of the association, which is to improve the situation of teachers," the activist added.
For Habes Aqrabawi, a teacher at Amman's Firas Ajlouni School, the victory of Islamists came as no surprise and the political nature of the campaigning was a natural behaviour because "teachers are educated people who have great interest in politics".
Women make it to committees
A total of 21 women won in the closed-list system, in addition to five who ran as independents in the elections, out of the 162 women who ran for candidacy.
Unlike parliamentary and municipal elections, the Teachers Association Law does not entail a women's quota.
At a press conference to announce the results of the elections, Minister of Education Eid Dahiyat said the overall elections rate stood at 77.9 per cent.
He noted that the voting turnout stood at 73 per cent in Amman, 79 per cent in Madaba, 72.2 per cent in Zarqa, 84.5 per cent in Balqa, 71 per cent in Irbid, 85.4 in Jerash, 83 per cent in Ajloun, 72.2 per cent in Mafraq, 80 per cent in Karak, 82.2 per cent in Tafileh, 78.5 per cent in Maan and 73.9 per cent in Aqaba.
Dahiyat voiced his satisfaction with the elections process, stressing that it went "smoothly" despite the "overwhelming" number of teachers who voted, estimated at 83,000 out of 105,000 teachers eligible to vote.
Dahiyat called on winners to convene on Thursday to conduct internal elections for the president, secretary general and secretary of the central committee that will elect the association's council and president on April 13.