By Denis Dumo Scopas
“With the way we see things going; nothing is going to work out,” says Edward.
“The strike has begun as stated. It is also worth mentioning that if I give this press a statement, John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology and University of Bahr el Ghazal are also on strike due to the same issues, and the other public universities are also in solidarity with us,” says Dr Edward Momo, Vice President of the Academic Staff Association.
Dr Edward says the lecturers are intellectuals and therefore there is still room for negotiation if the government can show seriousness about the situation, which he described as appalling.
Last week, representatives from of the academic association of Bahr el Ghazal, Rumberk, Dr John Garang, Upper Nile and Juba Universities, on Saturday, held a meeting with the minister of Education and his deputy Bol Makueng, regarding the strike which had been scheduled for Monday.
“The request for the two weeks, the Minister of Education, Science and Technology had asked from the lecturers to give him so as to make consultations with the relevant authorities, has been superseded by the letter in question. So the two weeks are off the table,” Edward asserted.
The austerity cuts, for instance, reduce the gross salary of a professor (the highest paid) from 8,525 pounds to 3,600 pounds, the staff said. It also reduces the gross salary of teaching assistant (the least paid) from 2,775 pounds to 1,515 pounds, they added.
However, the Ministry of Labor, in its circular No.12/12 in October last year, retained some allowances for the lower grade civil servants, the army, organized forces and public universities, among others.
Dr. Edward confirmed that the strike will continue until their demands are met. Meanwhile, students who were admitted in the University of Juba are lamenting the decision taken by the lecturers of the university.
“We told him (the minister) we want the allowances from the government, even if for October, November and December 2013, meanwhile we wait for the unpaid salaries, then it will be good enough to encourage us to go to work,” says Momo.
Speaking to the Juba Sun on Tuesday, Secretary General of the Academic Staff Association, Leonzio A. Onek, confirmed that the strike will continue till their demands are met.
Onek said the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, coupled with the Ministry of Finance, Commerce and Industry, assured them that their allowances would be reinstated in February next year, 2014.
While the students of the university have lamented the decision of the lecturers to go on strike, some have accepted the decision of the lecturers. Moses Taban Kenyi said the lecturers have the right to strike. “And it is our right to attend lectures, because we are the ones paying our own fees,” he said.
Taban says the government is not taking education as priority. further urges the government and “We are always putting fault to the Arabs (Northern Sudanese) before, but now where are the Arabs? This is our own fault,” Taban emphasized.
“Am sure they (government leadership) have no children studying here, all are abroad. We the poor people are the ones suffering. You supposed to finish in three year times (diploma) or four years time (degree), it will be extend to six year for both programs,” he lamented.
The lecturers did not conduct lectures on Monday, demanding payment of their allowances, which include nature of job, transport, books and secretariat, higher studies and extra hour’s allowances.