Upper Nile Teachers’ Strike Still On

Ustaz Daniel Wuor (in white shirt), Upper Nile State Minister for General Education and Instruction- listening to his Directors during one of the meetings at the ministry. [Ariik Atekdit]

Teachers in the last two weeks have refused to teach in both primary and secondary schools across the state due to the delay of June’s salaries.

In July, teachers planned to conduct a sit-in strike in the state for three days urging the government to pay them their dues as quickly as possible.

The sit-in continued with teachers reporting to their schools but not delivering lessons to the learners.

Students and pupils last week protested in support of their teachers asking the state government to pay June’s salaries to their teachers so that they get lessons in the classes.

In a move to sideline the students’ protests and teachers strike, the government arrested two journalists belonging to a UN based radio station, Radio Miraya.

The two journalists Simon Waki and Nyang Pal were trying to cover the students’ demonstration last week but got themselves into the hands of security personnel during the protest.

Consequently, the state government suspended Workers Trade Union’s activities and dismissed its chairperson, Adwok Othol accusing him for instigating the protests.

However, last Friday the State Minister for Education, Ustaz Daniel Wuor Jock called teachers for a meeting in a move trying to convince them to resume their duties as the ministry struggles to look for June salaries’.

One of the headmasters who requested anonymity confirmed that his school is closed described the meeting as ‘not fruitful’.

He blamed the minister for not choosing a better way of convincing the teachers as the minister chose only to force teachers to do work without recognizing them.

“He blamed us that we have no patriotism. That we don’t love our country and we must go and teach or else he would look for jobless people to come and occupy our positions,” he said adding that “the minister should know that not every educated person can be a teacher.”

“He needs to have teachers in the class not jobless people. We would be ready to listen to the minister if he was soft but it is unfortunate he was not,” he continued.
On Wednesday Gurtong tried to contact authorities at the State Ministry of General Education but it was futile.

The State Minister for Education, Ustaz Daniel Wuor said he was busy and asked to be called after 30 minutes and could not be reached after that.
A concerned teacher, Yohannes Aba Ador, revealed that children are the victims of the teachers’ strike and the failure of the ministry to bring June’s salary.

“Our children are the victims of this disagreement. Textbooks will not finish. And they will consequently fail because they have learned nothing during the school year,” Ador said.

“Now other states are teaching their children, when those children compete in the school certificates our children will be left behind. It will really bring down our state,” Ador said.

Although schools opened earlier this year in the state due to the calendar change from April to February school calendar has been interrupted so much.

Ador said, “Our textbooks of new syllabus only arrived here in mid May. And we have had a meningitis outbreak and there was a holiday of two weeks. We took very short time in classes and we have another indefinite strike of teachers. This is too much for our young children.”

South Sudan’s economy depends on oil for about 98 per cent. Last year government declared austerity measures in the country after closing its oil wells amidst disputes with the neighbouring Sudan over transit fees and accusation of theft.

The oil rich South Sudan is landlocked so it must use the pipelines and territory of its ex-foe to draw the crude to the international markets.

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