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Teachers released after protesting closure of schools

June 26 - 2018 WAD MADANI
Teachers who gathered to stage a sit-in in Wad Madani, capital of El Gezira, on Sunday (RD)
Teachers who gathered to stage a sit-in in Wad Madani, capital of El Gezira, on Sunday (RD)

Fifteen teachers from El Gezira state have been released by the police yesterday. They were detained for staging a protest against the closure of dozens of schools on Sunday. “Children now have to travel up to five hours to reach a school.”

Teachers and supporters held a vigil in front of the El Gezira Ministry of Education in Wad Madani, the state capital. Teacher Samir Salah told Radio Dabanga that the vigil was announced two weeks ago, and a memorandum had previously been sent to the Minister of Education. “We wrote to the minister about the delay in the payment of financial dues and benefits, in addition to the ministry’s decision to close a number of schools.”

The vigil began on Sunday at 9 am. Soon, police arrived at the scene in vehicles and arrested eight women and seven men, all of them teachers. They were taken to the central police station and held in detention. When members of the security service arrived they filed charges against the demonstrators for ‘public nuisance’ and ‘breach of public safety’.

“At 6 pm on Monday, all of them were released. But most of the detained teachers are elderly with sensitive health conditions. They cannot stand being in detention for a long time. And they were put into vehicles in a humiliating manner, which is not appropriate for seniors.”

The Teachers Committee of El Gezira had announced the protest and called on all teachers of the state to participate in this sit-in in order to get their due rights. The Committee demanded in a protest memorandum that the minimum wage be raised in a manner that meets life requirements and achieves a decent standard of living suitable for teachers.

Samir Salah added that the teachers will continue to insist on their demands and repeat their claim until the ministry responds.

School performance decline’

He said that the beginning of the current school year does not bear good indicators. “Previous school years have witnessed a decline in school performances, statistics have shown.

“Children now have to travel up to five hours to reach a school.”

“The ministry does not want to recruit new school staff in order to reduce expenses, and that decision has come to dry out the quality of schools,” Salah said. The latest decision, to shut down more than 200 schools in El Gezira state, “will increase the suffering of students who live in the peripheries and the countryside. They will have to spend up to five hours to visit one of the remaining schools.

“So that makes it necessary to have boarding houses at the schools in order to solve this problem. Building this means spending money that could have been used to recruit new staff. And keep in mind that, many graduates cannot be appointed as teachers yet,” Salah explained.

Next to this, the prices of school supplies and uniforms have shown an increase with the start of the new school year. To make matters worse for many Sudanese families, the ongoing fuel shortage in the country has made public transport more expensive, including for children going to school.

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