Sudanese teachers’ union activists victimised by the military junta

The Sudanese Teachers Committee (STC) is one of the professional and trade union entities which has been actively defending democracy and resisting the military coup. So it has been targeted by the coup government. 

In March 2022 the STC organised a successful 2 month strike, including boycotting exams, supervising and marking. The government used force, tear gas in schools, and other measures including demoting and transferring striking teachers. But they were forced to negotiate. The STC won a substantial victory on pay and showed how an independent union could successfully defend its members.

Members of the STC told Middle East Solidarity that the coup government has continued to attack the union’s activists, however. Firstly, the government has victimised and sacked all STC members working for the Ministry of Education at federal, state and local level, as well as some headteachers. It has since moved on to use other bureaucratic measures intended to end the teachers’ resistance.

One measure involves a new application form for school principal posts in Khartoum State for all school stages. Their idea is to open new applications for the posts of all school principals. Current principals must resign and re-apply. Successful applicants will be selected by a committee.

The STC put in objections to this procedure on a number of grounds. It will open these jobs to people who are not qualified and who will not be chosen for their competence. There should be a unified education policy, with standards set by, for example, the existing Educational Proficiency Council, applied to the whole country, not just Khartoum state. 

Perhaps most importantly, the application process is designed to allow manipulation of the selection.  The application form provides for the formation of a committee to sort out applications and nominate the school principal within each locality and at all stages (primary and secondary). These nominations are then submitted to a higher committee in the state ministry to extend, amend, or cancel the nomination.

But the local committees will consist of five members. For three of these there is no transparency as to how they will be chosen. The STC believe this will be a mechanism to exclude unwanted principals, i.e. STC members and cadres.

As a further measure the form gives the Supreme Committee the right to intervene by cancelling, amending and accrediting, without clarifying the reasons. 

The STC have rejected this application procedure, stating: “we believe it is a means of liquidating the resistance elements and replacing them with obedient or loyal elements, and passing the military coup plans onto the education sector.” 

Another way in which the government is trying to weaken the union is by creating serious disruption to the personal and family lives of active STC members, thus distracting them from their union work.

Mr. Sami Al-Baqir, a  leader and spokesperson of the Sudanese Teachers Committee was issued a notice evicting him and his family from their house with only 72 hours to leave. Mr. Al-Baqir has been working in education for nearly 20 years. He is a teacher at the Federal Ministry of Education where he holds a leadership position, and as such was designated a Ministry of Education house. He has been targeted since the beginning of the coup, by being transferred and being pressured by other administrative means.

The eviction letter stated that Mr. Sami Al-Baqir did not meet the standards set by the Houses Committee. Neither when this committee was formed, nor the reasons for its composition have been explained. Mr Al Baqir did not receive these standards and he was not given a copy of the decision. The whole process was clearly a set-up.

Mr Al Baqir has three children in primary schools adjacent to his current residence and his wife also works as a teacher in a school nearby. The implementation of this decision at this time and in such a hurry will intensify and aggravate the problems for the family. There are cases similar to that of Mr. Sami Al-Baqir for other teachers living in these houses.

The STC statement says: “we see that what was done to Mr. Sami Al-Baqir is an extension of the campaign of harassment and displacement of the cadres of the Committee against the coup and demanding the rights of teachers.”

What you can do: 

  • Send a message of protest to the Sudanese Embassy calling on the authorities to immediately end harassment and victimisation of STC activists 
  • Download and share our briefing for teachers’ union activists about the Sudanese teachers’ strike 

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