Bahrain's prime minister has ordered officials to find work for unemployed university graduates after hundreds of jobless teachers staged a rare demonstration in the Gulf monarchy, an information ministry official told AFP.
"The government examined the question of unemployed teachers during its weekly meeting Sunday, September 9, and Prime Minister Shaikh Khalifa Bin Salman Al-Khalifa gave instructions for the hiring of (unemployed) graduates, each according to their qualifications," said the official, who asked not to be named.
"Measures have already started for hiring unemployed teachers for the 2001-2002 school year," the official quoted Khalifa as saying during the cabinet meeting.
On Saturday hundreds of unemployed graduates, mostly teachers who have never had jobs, staged their second sit-in protest of the month at the education ministry building in Manama to denounce hiring policies.
Education Minister Muhammad Jassim Al-Ghatam responded to their first sit-in on September 1 by promising jobs for 900 unemployed graduates, mainly as teachers, but the protestors rejected the plan as insufficient. They complained that there were some 2,000 unemployed graduates.
Such protests are rare in the Gulf monarchies, where demonstrations over social issues are often banned. However employment has recently become a priority for the government since a weak economy contributed to sectarian unrest during the 1990s.
"The government will not hesitate to support all plans and programs to supply more employment to citizens," the official cited Kalifa saying. Khalifa announced a $65.5 million employment plan in April that included training programs.
Bahrain officially estimates it unemployment figure at 25 percent, or between 20,000 and 30,000 Bahrainis, from a mostly young population who account for 60 percent of the country's 700,000 residents.
Last month the employment ministry declared it would restrict new work permits for foreigners because 50,000 illegal Asian workers had glutted the workforce. — (AFP, Manama)
© Agence France Presse 2001
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