Capital Ethiopia Newspaper

Touching the Future?

As teachers continue to protest what they say is an insignificant pay raise, the Addis Ababa City Administration Education office is warning teachers to resume work. The office announced that the pay rise is considerable and teachers must return immediately.
But is the teachers’ pay raise really meaningful? For a teacher with a diploma, the starting salary is 1,171 birr a month. After the raise these teachers will now get 1,233 birr a month. The increase is 62 birr. For a teacher with a degree the starting salary is 1,571 birr a month. Now their new salary will be 1,644 birr a month.  The increase is 73 birr. Starting salaries for both the diploma and degree holders at the government offices are 100 birr more.  
No education means no future but when teachers are not treated like professionals producing valuable human resources they become disgruntled. 
And they are disgruntled.
They have asked the government to help them obtain the money they need to live. They have asked for their academic rights to be protected. They have asked for the educational system to improve.
Instead of criticizing the government, they turned toward the government asking for their cries for justice to be heard. Yet they have fallen on deaf ears.
When they asked for dialogue, the government’s office instead wrote them a letter. Warning them, twice that week,  that they would face consequences if they did not resume teaching the next day. 
“Return to your duties and stop this illegal and unconstitutional strike. Boycotting class is an illegal act that disturbs the teaching-learning process. This is a final warning since you have not responded to the warning before,” the office wrote.
Sadly they are not the only ones.
Similar incidents are rapidly emerging in other areas. The Ethiopian Muslims raised issues time and again. Negotiations took place with different government officials. At one time the Federal Civil Service Minister, Juneydi Saddo and Federal Regional Affairs Minister Shiferw Teklemariam (PhD) were involved in bringing the Muslim community together. These are high ranking officials with deep knowledge of the religion. Juneydi is a Muslim. At another time the Addis Ababa City Administration Mayor Kuma Demeksa held lengthy meetings with the Muslims who forwarded their grievances. Yet their concerns remain unresolved.
The serious problem at the Ethiopian Orthodox church historical Waldba Monastery is still in the course of action. The issue began when the Sugar Development Corporation had a feasibility study to set up a Sugar factory and sugar cane plantation farming close to the monastery. The monks first appealed to the church administration claiming that the project would affect the monastery. They went through all the administrative channels before they went public.
The fire problem at Ziquala Abo Monastery and the provocation at the Asabot Monastery are still being worked on. Looking at the dangerous prospects, the respective monks are crying but feel that no one is listening. These are issues that possibly lead religious confrontation when it explodes.   
Very recently the Amhara ethnic group who were sent to the Southern Region Benchi Maji zone at Gurafarda area were evicted from their resettlement area. They were about 22,000 people. Primarily they went there following the government’s resettlement program. Media reports said those people who were forced to leave from their relocation area first appealed to the zonal Administrator and later to the South regional administrator Shiferaw Shigute. Both complaints failed to bear fruit. At the end they came to Addis Ababa to appeal to the Prime minister’s office. Media reported that they were taken back at their birth places after taking some respite at Debre Birhan, 120Km on the road to Wollo.    
Two men set fire to themselves after pouring fuel on their body. Both died after being treated at hospitals. One was in the South and the second and recent one was, according to media reports, in Debre Markos city, in Gojam.
The business community asked the municipality to help them after  exorbitant tax increases. They want tax to be reduced. All complained that heavy taxes are unfair and hurting their business. Their concerns have not been addressed.
The issue that they raised was evaded. Instead the government argued they were breaching the law or constitution.
Even the monks at Waldba Monastery faced this kind of negative response. Abay Tsehaye, the top ruling party official and director of the Sugar Development Corporation said on Ethiopian Television,
“The politically motivated monks expressed anger and frustration about the project which never affects the monastery. We told the people and the monks that the project is, in fact, useful for the protection of the monastery.”
When the men burned themselves to death officials brushed it off, saying they were mentally ill.  The response for question of the business community was rather swift and simple: enough is enough for those who want to play the dirty game.
Now people devoting their lives for to teach our children for little pay are receiving the same treatment.