Comboni students threaten to leave after head teacher’s dismissal

The students during the meeting (Photo: Sheila Ponnie

By Sheila Ponnie

With fewer teachers entering the profession in South Sudan and more of them leaving their careers looking for greener pastures, students are being left without qualified teachers.

Students of St. Daniel Comboni Secondary School in Juba have threatened to leave the institution if their demands for teachers are not met by the school administration.

More than 400 students gathered on Monday at their school compound demanding to meet the Vicar General Father Morris Ladu of Catholic Archdiocese in Kator.

The students said they were demanding for their rights, and answers as to why teachers were leaving the school and others were being dismissed from their daily routines.

The representative of the students Sabir Solomon Joshua read out their demands.

“We need all the teachers back with all their needs fulfilled, we need our headmaster Michael Daniel and Sister Lily back to the school and we also want freedom of speech, the school does not allow us to speak up,” Joshua read.

The students warned that if their demands were not met, they would strike for their rights even though they were told that they do not have rights.

The students have also rejected the new administration provided to them saying that according to their own observations, the new admiration is not fit enough to teach them.

“We the students reject the present new administration and we also reject the dismissal of others,” they said.

However the students made a specific emphasis on a particular teacher’s return, Sister Lily Grace, threatening that if she is not brought back, they would leave the school.

“We are striking because we want Sister back and now without her presence this school will collapse. Our teacher is a very good person, she has been giving us advice on how girls should behave, and she has been telling us that we are still too young to start love affairs in fact she gives advices that our parents don’t give us and therefore if they don’t bring Sister back, the whole school is ready to leave, I personally will leave the school,” the student.

Comboni students yelling during the meeting: “No Sister Lilly, no school.

We want our sister and the other teachers back”. (Photo: Sheila Ponnie)

Some of the students said that teachers were leaving the school and others were being dismissed by the church administration.

Against the odds, South Sudanese children in and out of the country continue battling to access knowledge and change their future.

One of the students who asked for his name not to be mentioned said that some of the teachers brought to them were not qualified, that is why they rejected them.

“First of all the way he expresses himself, is not convincing and secondly what he is teaching is not relevant to the senior three book,”the student claimed.

The student added the particular teacher used to come to class drunk “and in times of examinations when we try to tell him that we do not understand, he tells us to just cram.”

During the meeting, Vicar General, Father Morris Ladu of Catholic Church in Kator said the reason as to why teachers have not come to school was because of low salaries.

“One of the major concerns is the problem of low salary and the teachers are demanding for the increment of the salary and that is why they have refused to come to teach,” Father Ladu explained.

He refuted the allegations by the students about the dismissal of Sister Lily Grace and other teachers.

“The Sister is not dismissed first of all, but she has been asked to leave the school and go and look for job elsewhere as a religious leader.We will be checking on her in that place and if her term comes to an end we will go and search for another place and also it is normal for Sisters and Fathers,” he explained.

“We have only dismissed the headmaster Mr. Micheal who was here and he was from the Government so he came here as the government and his term has come to an end,” Father Ladu said.

He explained that with a new administration to be installed, salaries of teachers will be added.

(L-R) Vicar General, Father Morris Ladu and one of the students trying

to control the students during the assembly (Photo : Sheila Ponnie)

The chairperson of Parents-Teacher’s Association (PTA) Dr. Tom Ohia Joseph said the school’s challenges started since last year.

“When we came back for the parent’s general assembly meeting, questions were raised that some teachers left the school because of less pay,” Ohia said.

He added that the PTA found out that the budget was little to cover what the teachers wanted. He said parents came up with a decision to collect 3,000SSP to support the teachers and also part timers.

“We started getting complaints from the school administration asking why we are collecting 3,000 Pounds and the whole problem started with money issues and it is through this money that the headmaster was fired,” Mr. Ohia said.

He also said that Sister Lily was distressed by the school with allegations she collaborated with the teachers for the students to make their demands.

Ohia said he agreed with the students for Sister Lily to be brought back to the school because she has been a role model to the children.

“The only problem is that the students want Sister Lily to be returned to the school,” he said.

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