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News: Police in Kellem Wollega Zone, Oromia detain more than 20 teachers for refusing mandatory salary cut, local authorities deny

A high school teacher in Kellem Wollega zone ©Addis Standard-screenshot/Archive

Addis Abeba – Police have detained more than 20 teachers who raised questions over a government scheme that deducts some amount of money from their salaries, in Lalo Qile district of Kellem Wollegga zone, in Western Oromia. The teachers have been detained in Lalo District police facility for over a week, VOA Afaan Oromoo reported.

“In 2021 we gave 100 percent of our one month salary to be deducted over a year for [PM Abiy Ahmed’s] ’Dine for Ethiopia’ program. In 2022 we did the same for the construction of zonal Prosperity Party office. Now for the third year they asked as to do the same for construction of the zone’s culture and tourism office and we refused stating that inflation has already made our lives difficult,” a teacher said.

He said that teachers wrote a letter to zonal administration demanding to be paid full amount of their salaries. However, “the administration responded threatening to imprison us, to kill us and we left the school fearing for our lives,” he added.

A local resident whose brother, a teacher, is among the arrested corroborated the same adding that 24 teachers from six schools in the districts were arrested and remain behind bars without no court appearance.

However, the peace and security head of Lalo Qile town Birhanu Geneti refuted the teachers’ accusations and instead claimed that the arrested teachers were those who engaged in acts that could interrupt the teaching-learning process.

Berhanu further claimed that the teachers voluntarily resigned from their posts and attempted to incite unrest in the schools by leaving students without education; he added that attempts were underway through traditional Gadaa leaders to persuade the teachers to get back to their jobs and release them.

Teachers in Ethiopia are among low-paid public servants. Recently, they have started to expressing their long lasting grievances often putting them at odds with administrative officials.

In late November last year, teachers and their technical assistants working in Ethiopian universities threatened to go on strike saying that their demands including salary raises, promotions, housing, life insurance, credit mechanisms etc were ignored by the government.

On 05 December, four teachers, including the president of Arba Minch University Teachers’ Association, were arrested in connection with a strike taken into effect by teachers in various universities across the country. AS

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