430 primary and secondary school teachers in Jonglei State on Friday gave the national government a 72-hour ultimatum to pay their four months’ salary arears or they will go on strike.
According to John Deng Ajith, Interim Chairperson of Jonglei Teachers’ Union, the hundreds of teachers from 59 different schools across the state capital have staged a demonstration over the issue.
One teacher, whom we have named Robert due to safety concerns, said if the 72 hours’ elapses without a swift intervention from National Ministry of Finance, they will close all schools in the area.
“We are on protest, giving the National government only 72 hours to resolve the issue of four-month incentives which are unpaid,” Robert told Eye Radio in an interview from Bor city.
The threat of teachers’ strike comes at a time when schools are gearing towards the final exams for all levels of primary and secondary education.
Mr Robert threatened that the state teachers strike could have far-reaching consequences including postponement of the upcoming Primary 8 and Senior 4 exams.
“All schools will be closed. No candidate we shall allow to sit for exam this year. Unless the National government first focus to pay our four months incentives because we have our kids at homes, wives, relatives that we are responsible.”
“If you’re not paid for four months, how will you support them? We are human beings. The government have not respected our dignity as such the schools will be closed all on Monday.”
Generally, teachers across the country have months of accumulated salary arears, a situation that was previously blamed on the delay in passing the fiscal year budget.
Achol (not her real name) is another Jonglei teacher, who has participated in the demonstration.
She said her economic situation is unbearable at home, as her family sometimes goes to bed without food over lack of money and high food prices.
“It has affected my family because am not taking my kids to school, hospital, and providing them what to eat,” she said.
“Spending two days, for example, without food, your children will cry. So, my kids are crying and asking me. Mum, why are you going to teach when there’s no money? They are asking a lot of questions. So, we need our money.”
On his part, John Deng Ajith, Interim Chairperson of Jonglei Teachers’ Union is urging the National Ministry of Finance to swiftly respond to the urgent calls of teachers in the state.
“We are urging the National Parliament to tell us which laws that still segregate and that law has to be debated. If at all there’s law like that, we need to be told that there’s law that segregate payment of all the civil servants,” he said.
“Specially the teachers. And if no law, then we need Dr. Bak “Finance Minister” to react positively by sending all the four months salaries immediately.”
The demonstration comes a month after the teachers locked the premises of the state Ministry of Finance to protest allegations that it froze a cash transfer bank account of the Ministry of Education and created an alternative account.
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