8 headteachers arrested for boycotting screening exercise in South Sudan

At least eight primary school headteachers were arrested over the weekend after they snubbed a screening exercise by the state education minister in Yirol West County in Lakes State.

Last month, the Lakes State ministry of general education and Instruction ordered over 4,000 teachers across the state to sit for a screening examination exercise to assess the qualifications of teachers on the government’s payroll. Some teachers, including administrators and head teachers, rubbished the exercise and said it should only be for volunteer teachers who do not have teaching skills and experience.

The police’s chief inspector in Yirol West County, Bol Duony, confirmed that eight headteachers are being held in the county jail.

“I told the commissioner and executive director that the teachers should not be detained with criminals and murderers in a facility like Maburziet Prison so they were brought to the police. There is no warrant of arrest against them and if no warrant is produced against them, they will be released from jail,” he explained. “I know only 8 teachers that have been detained in Maburziet and they have now been brought to the police station.

Meanwhile, James Makur, a primary school teacher in Yirol West County, reiterated that teachers who are already on the government payroll will not sit for the screening interview.

“Some of the teachers have been teaching for more than 15 years since before independence and have a provisional appointment from the education ministry while others have permanent appointments,” he said. “We are told if we do not sit for the interview, then you go out. We accepted on condition that if we leave, then the government has to give us our pensions.” 

For his part, Moses Maciek, a volunteer teacher, who sat for the screening examinations said they were fairly difficult.

“We have tried our level best to do our screening exercise although the exams were tough,” he said. “Those who refused to sit for screening exams exercise might have a right because they were appointed by the same government in Lakes State as civil servants.”

A Rumbek University of Science and Technology (RUST) examination supervisor, Mabor Malou, said the university set the screening examinations based on the capacity of primary school teachers.

“I want to congratulate the teachers who made it to various schools and sat for this examination,” he said. “This is now the beginning of quality education in Lakes State.”

The director general of the state education ministry, James Marer Aluel, told Radio Tamazuj that his ministry is mandated to screen all the teachers.

“We do not have accurate data of those who are sitting for examinations now but the University of Rumbek is tasked to supervise the screening exercise and is still compiling a report,” he said.

Aluel however said he was not aware of teachers being detained.

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