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53 Lakes State schools stage protest over lack of motivation for volunteers

53 Lakes State schools stage protest over lack of motivation for volunteers
Nelson Makoi, minister for Education in Lakes State, speaks to teachers about free education in March, 2023 | Credit | Lakes State office of the Governor

Teachers from 53 government-run primary schools in Rumbek East have laid down their tools after government failed to motivate volunteer teaching staff since the beginning of the 2023 academic year.

There are close to 800 hundred teachers, including volunteers in Rumbek East County. The teachers announced the sit-in strike on Tuesday, affecting nearly 20,000 pupils.

Thon Malual, headteacher of Atiapa Primary school, says 10 volunteer teachers who were supporting learning in his school left due to lack of motivation, leaving him and his deputy at the school.

“We also have to go home because two teachers cannot run the school of 1,000 learners in eight levels,” Malual told Mingkaman FM.

“We cannot cheat the community because when children come to school and find only two teachers who cannot give lessons in all classes, they will return home untaught. This is not good. So, we will sit at home until the government finds solution.”

However, it is unclear whether the volunteers had been promised any incentives.

For his part, the headteacher of Nhiak Primary School, Mayor Dor Apach, suggested that the government confirm the names of the volunteer teachers in all the school to enable effective teaching.

“We need accountability from the government because schools can’t be left like that. If these volunteer teachers are contracted like two of us – me and my deputy – there will be change because they will be committed and the teaching will go on very well,” Dor argued.

When contacted, Rumbek East County Education Director ENock Machuoch Mayol stated that he had formed a five-member committee headed up by deputy director for education to look into the teachers’ complaints.

He said: “I have heard the information and the investigation will start in Atiap, Pachong, Malek-agok and Chuei-chok and the team will report back to me today and I will share the findings immediately so that the issue is addressed without delay.”

In February 2023, President Salva Kiir declared free education policy in both primary and secondary levels.

However, the free education policy has left volunteer teachers without motivation since they were depending on community contribution in the previous years, according to teachers from different parts of Lakes State. Currently, no child is asked to pay money in government owned schools.