Bor teachers on strike over disappeared incentive
By Manyuon Mayen Manyuon
Teachers from thirteen secondary schools in Bor town on Tuesday laid down their tools over what they called the misappropriation of their incentives by the state government.
The money is supposed to be given to the teachers monthly to motivate them given their poor salary scale. It is a project funded by the European Union under the Impact Project that started in 2017.
Attempts by Jonglei State Ministry of Finance on Tuesday to pay the teachers on installment did not work out as they demanded full payment of the nine months incentives.
Some of the teachers have not received their incentives for nine months. They said the unpaid incentives exceed 17 million SSP.
Gai Samuel Pandak Deng, a teacher at Greenbelt Secondary School in Bor said they were prevented by the security after they tried to meet the state governor over the matter.
“After reaching the governor’s office to meet with us, we were chased out. The security forces intimidated us. They interrogated us on why we want to meet the governor,” Deng said.
“The only solution we have come up with is to lay down our tools. We want to let the European Union know that the “aid” it made for Jonglei State is no longer reaching the targeted group. It is your right as the European Union to cut off this grant so that we remain as ever before,” Deng demanded.
He said it was not logical for top state leadership to hesitate to meet the teachers.
Deng added that the fact that the state government failed to understand their grievances, meaning “the whole government might be part of the money fraud.”
Ayuen John Majok, a classroom teacher at Bor College Secondary School affirmed that they disagreed with the Finance Minister as he had wanted them to receive the money in bits after admitting that the money has been “used up.”
Majok said the European Union EU should withdraw the grants for Jonglei since the money was not helping the beneficiaries.
“We need the EU to intervene on the issue as the providers of the grants, they should either find a means of paying teachers direct or eliminate the government,” Majok said.
“If it is never possible, they better cut the grants such that we live without that grant and instead of the grants to be coming and individuals benefiting from it yet the intended people are suffering. It is better for EU to cut if they cannot pay the teachers direct,” he added.
Majok however blamed the Food for Hungry (FH), a Christian Organization serving as the implementing agent for impact grants in Jonglei State for contributing to the disappearance of the money.
“Again, the implementing agent which is the Food for Hungry (FH) people on the ground is not fair. When money reach them they don’t inform the teachers, they just let the money come and give them to the government when we try to ask for the money, no one tells us the reality until we gave them pressure,” he said.
“This money we are claiming came to Jonglei on the 27th of June this year, and we have just realized at the end of last month that the money was around after we complained. It means that the implementing agent and the government have the same thing in common. They have business in common so we really need the EU to do something about that,” Majok explained.
Atong Kuol Manyang, Jonglei State information and communication minister denied that the money was UK funded incentives.
She admitted that the money was used up but not the UK impact program money.
Ms. Manyang said that the claimed cash was meant for secondary school teachers’ motivation by the national government as opposed to UK incentives.
Ms. Manyang stated that UK impact program was meant for primary school teachers only not secondary teachers.
“This particular money that has issues around was brought by the national government to supplement the teachers’ incentives so that their work is facilitated and made easier,” she said.
“So when this issue came up and the government sat down with some of these teachers, the government agreed that this money will be paid in installment,” Ms. Manyang explained.
She admitted that the few schools which did not receive were schools which have not accepted the terms of payment.
“The schools which have not received their money are the few who came on Tuesday and they are the ones having complaints. But it is important to note that some of these schools are private schools and they are the ones saying these money will be paid at once but we have agreed on installment,” she concluded.