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Lakes state students warn government against postponing school reopening

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February 17, 2014 (RUMBEK) - Students of Lakes state have reacted negatively to the government’s decision to suspended the reopening of all both primary and secondary schools across its eight counties.

On February 3, the Lakes State ministry of education, science and technology sent orders to all school head teachers to immediately postpone the reopening of schools until April.

In a letter signed by Director General in the ministry of education, Ustaz David Deng Agok indicated no reason for the postponement.

Student’s leaders and activist have accused Lakes state’s military caretaker Governor Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol for wanting to discourage education because of his poor relationship with the state’s young people and student unions.

Some students claim that Dhuol’s government is failing to live up to promises of improvement in education, security reform and progress in terms of human rights and health made by South Sudan President Salva Kiir during the 2010 general election campaign.

“Governor, Matur is pushing us, we students to have a wrong decision against the government. This is our government and we must very soon be forced by situation to act badly due to frustration. Kiir is not listening to our cry. We send more letters and our voices are not heard. Does Kiir just listen our bullet?” asked one of the student leaders who requested anonymity.

He added that “this state government officials send their children abroad for study and the left us here with poor education facilities and worse enough they are closing all schools down without reason being provided. This is going to be [a] red line and if President Kiir does not tell his messenger Matur Chut, to reopen all schools, the lesson will reach him.”

Kiir appointed Dhuol in January 2013 to replace Chol Tong Mayay, who he had sacked following a series of clashes between rival cattle herding groups. Mayay is now among the senior politicians who oppose Kiir’s rule and are attending talks in Ethiopia to end two months of fighting between rebels and the government.

The conflict has displaced 707,400 within South Sudan, including 92,000 to Lakes state. A further 149,700 have been forced to flee the country due to conflict. However, the conflict, which has killed an estimated 10,000 people, was not mentioned as a reason for the delaying school term in the letter from Director General Ustaz David Deng Agok.

The February 3 letter said: "the office of General Education in the state ministry of Education is hereby strongly informing all of you not to open schools until further directives."

Dhuol, since his appointment just over a year ago has been at odds with students and youth across Lakes state. several activists have asked President Kiir to remove Dhuol but president overlook the campaign.

Under South Sudan’s constitution if the President removes a governor a by-election should be held within three months.

Over the last year three governors have been removed - two sacked and one promoted - but there are no plans for any elections to be held before general elections scheduled for 2015.

(ST)

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