Teachers in the North and East Darfur regions of Sudan are on strike as they demand money which has been promised to them since an agreement made in 2005. The teachers are demanding that 50% of the arrears should be paid immediately, but the government has only paid the salaries for the last two months which does not begin to cover the period of the losses. The strike in East Darfur has been going on for 5 days already, while that in the North is in its fourth week.

When the government responded to their demands by promising to set up a committee to look into the problem, the teachers set up a committee of their own, downed chalk and went on strike. Now the government is threatening them with dismissal if they do not return to work and has already sacked some headteachers. Last month, teachers in neighbouring South Darfur were on strike for the same reason - in their case each teacher was owed an average of $13,000 - a huge amount in an area where teachers salaries are very low.

The teachers have been given support by the wider trade union movement in Sudan. A spokesperson for the Workers Union said that the state government 'clearly does not appreciate the teachers’ work, and their efforts'. Menwhile the national union federation (SWTUF), based in the capital, Khartoum gave its full support to the striking teachers in Darfur. 

Sudan is a 'Highly Indebted Poor Country' according to World Bank criteria, and this despite the fact that until the secession of South Sudan it had access to considerable oil wealth. The unequal sharing out of the wealth has been one of the main causes of the conflicts in the country which have cost hundreds of thousands of  lives. Now oil giants like Total and Exxon are negotiating deals to enable them to extract oil and profits from South Sudan. Meanwhile all over Sudan and South Sudan, including in Darfur, teachers and other education employees have been doing their best in impossible circumstances to provide an education in schools often with poor or no facilities, furniture and supplies.