A Schoolroom in Southern Sudan
Teachers in the Lakes Province of Southern Sudan are on strike to demand a living wage
Teachers in the state are paid approximately $84 per month which is not enough to live on. According to one teacher who spoke to the online OYe Times:
“The 200 Sudanese Pounds we are being paid is like pocket money and we cannot sustain our families on this amount. It is better doing farming at home than teaching”. The new education minister had promised that increasing teachers' pay was one of his main priorities.
Yet teachers in the state are working under the most difficult conditions. Pupils went on strike last month to protest against overcrowded classrooms and lack of food. As a result many teachers are teaching evening classes to try and compensate for the numbers of pupils needing to be educated and the shortage of teachers.
Like so many countries in the Global South, Sudan is a potentially rich country with massive oil reserves. Lakes state saw some of the worst fighting in the civil war which was theoretically ended by a peace agreement in 2005 - yet violence in still rife. The civil war itself was far from the straightforward battle between good and evil portrayed in the Western press. Behind it lies a fight for resources which are syphoned off by foreign governments and multinational corporations. As the African website Pambazuka news puts it:
"Overall, Africa loses almost US$150 billion each year in illicit capital flight, over 60 per cent caused by multinational mispricing, indicating that the source of the 'resource curse' is rooted in systemic forces, lending to behavioural corruption on the part of states. This is because states are accountable to and dependent on multinationals – legal citizens (manufacturing distorted tax bases) – as opposed to nations made up of flesh and blood citizens "But Africa's propped up political leaders, directly causing the continent to lose US$18 billion each year in conflict alone (or some US$280 billion since the 1990s), have no need for citizens as unearned, undisclosed revenue allows them to capture political power indefinitely.
"And while 'wabenzis' or Africa's elites, rely on multinationals for revenue – funds that should be invested in citizens through state services such as education (the source of 80 per cent of 'wealth' generated in developed countries), African citizens are forced to survive and earn an income mainly from direct ecosystem services such as water, fisheries, farm and cropland.
"This is where Sudan is placed at the edge of precipice, more so than most other nations: In stark contrast to Nigeria and other such ecologically 'rich' regions, much of Sudan is ecologically 'poor', compounded by structurally unjust systems of land tenure, the inherited legacy of British colonialism, endorsed by Africa's 'internal' colonialists."
To read the whole article go to: http://www.pambazuka.org/en/issue/461