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Teachers dismissed over schoolgirl pregnancies in Rumbek

December 3, 2011 (RUMBEK) - Lakes state’s ministry of education has dismissed three teachers and suspended four others following allegations that they impregnated schoolgirls in Rumbek.

Investigations, which began after around 40 girls between the age of 15 and 17 pulled out of schools in Lakes state after falling pregnant, found that three teachers should be sacked. The other four have been suspended while the ministry continues pursuing the case.

The legal age of consent in South Sudan in 18, although under traditional customs girls can marry as soon as they begin menstruating. This disparity has brought Dinka youth into conflict with authorities in Lakes state who have jailed men and boys who have impregnated unmarried underage girls.

It is expected that the teachers will be tried either in at Rumbek’s court of justice or in a local traditional court.

The, director general for education, Kangor Deng Kangor, said Saturday that the incidents were "no joke" and that the suspended teachers would be sacked if it was proved they had sex with their students.

Two teachers were suspended and two sacked from Rumbek East County, as well as a deputy headmaster in Awerial County.

He said that ministry of education will not allow such teachers to continue teaching in any schools in the state because they had violated teaching ethics.

The ministry’s investigation team included the the board of directors and the director of equality promotion. They gathered information from headmasters and county education directors who recommending teachers for dismissal and suspension.

He advised all sectors responsible for education in the state help the ministry of education stop the practice, saying schoolgirls had the right not be abused in their community.

Kangor said his office would eventually release the names of the accused teachers so they would not be able to find work at other schools in other states of South Sudan.

There are still 33 schoolgirl pregnancies in Lakes state which remain unaccounted for according to the ministry of education, which says it is clamping down on the practice to restore parent’s trust in the school system.

This is the first time Lakes state ministry of education has dismissed teachers who have had sexual relations with their students.

Kongar added that the examination for primary schools started early last week and the schools are expected to be closed officially on 20 December and reopen in the first week of February 2012.

(ST)