4 Aug 2020


Prof Liyong’s Letter Socially Segregative And Disintegrative

“A controversial article written by Professor Taban Lo Liyong and addressed to President Trump’s Special Delegation to South Sudan is socially segregative and professionally disintegrative”.

.By Ustaz Abraham Mabior Rioc,
Kuajok––South Sudan

In the past few weeks, a renowned university Professor Taban Lo Liyong wrote a provocative article to US President Donald Trump through his Special Envoy to South Sudan. In fact, the article is strongly condemned for it has singlehandedly targeted and solitarily victimized one tribe––the Dinka.

His article has sparked off bitter criticisms, mixed condemnations, and appreciations from different ethnic sympathizers. Though there is some trueness in land grabbing, I think the issue of land seizing is individually carried out by a few people not only from Dinka but from other tribes as well. In this respect, the majority of the Dinka community is innocent.

Conversely, such respective cases of land grabbing could be addressed through a procedurally legal means for those who are directly involved. In fact, his article is contextually inciting of hatred and it is not healthy in this current situation where south Sudanese tribes have been divided along ethnic and sectional lines. As a professional teacher, he should have evaluated the line and the content of his argument and the message to be conveyed and interpreted.

So, my purpose in writing this article is not to rebut the professor’s article from the political, ethnic, and legal points of view, but to contextualize my argument from the perspective of a teaching profession. In line with the teaching profession, there are rules and ethical standards that guide teachers in the course of discharging their obligatory duties.

In the context of teaching, the rules and ethics are commonly known as professional ethics or educational ethics and they go hand in hand with common sense and daily etiquettes. Ethically, a teacher tends to educate students from different shades in terms of ethnic diversity, political, and social affiliations. Thus, any comments or opinions which have sensitive significance could sometimes integrate or disintegrate the social relationships and ethnic configuration of the learners.

In line with the university code of conduct, the battling professor was reported to have been suspended from his duties by the leadership of his institution for incitement of ethnic hatred and bringing the institution into disrepute. Others criticized and condemned the decision reached by the Vice-Chancellor of the University of Juba for suspending Professor Taban and without pay.

In my view, the University of Juba is guided by ethical standards and institutional principles to which the Vice-Chancellor is administratively empowered to suspend any unruly staff. In this respect, the suspension does not mean that he is totally dismissed from his duty. However, it is an administrative procedure that is obviously applied by any functioning system of the institution.

Though freedom of expression is legally guaranteed and publicly exercised in South Sudan, it is also imperative that one’s behavioral activities should be guided by social and professional ethics. In compliance and conformity to social ethics, it is collectively binding that a teacher should not comment negatively on views to do with tribal sentimentalities. In this background, teaching is a noble profession, and therefore all teachers are expected to behave professionally and socially at all times in the wider community.

Nonetheless, in any given society, people are driven by emotions or tempers which could be triggered by diverging human behaviors and manners. In this sense, a teacher is supposed to control his or her temper in any given situation in the event that one is out of his or her control. In reality, controlling one’s temper or anger is a mature way of handling bad and unbecoming situations in society.

Equally important, politeness and respect should always be the guiding principles forever practicing professionals. This is because teachers are the educators of the nation and promoters of peace and harmony among the different ethnic backgrounds. In this sense, a teacher should always refrain from inciting others or commenting recklessly.

Virtuously, a teacher should always promote peace and co-existence between or among the people of different ethnic settings. This exempts a teacher from being a dictator or performing his or her duties in a segregative manner. He or she has to practice transparency, equal favoritism and equal care for all his or her learners and peers in society. So, he or she is expected to remain non-partisan and nonaligned in relation to behaviors that may create disunity among different social groups.

With regard to political views, teachers ought to be neutral in political beliefs especially in the teaching environment. In fact, school or university accommodates students from different political and ethnic backgrounds. Thus, teachers ought to be cautious to keep his or her views being taken out of context.

In such a situation, a teacher must always exercise maximum care when teaching, commenting or publishing an opinionated content that touches political and cultural views. Needless to say, criticizing, critiquing, and taking side-comments on a certain political party or sectional activities may bring conflict among the students on one hand, and between the students and the teacher in question, on the other hand. Indeed, it may land such a careless teacher on hot soup, otherwise.

The writer is a teacher by profession and practice who holds duals Masters’ Degrees in Education from the University of Juba and The University of Hong Kong respectively. He is also the author of the forthcoming book entitled: Upscaling Education in Emergencies: A Key factor for investing in Human Resource Development and Conflict Mitigation in the prone-conflict zones. He is electronically reachable at mabiorrioc@gmail.com

Posted in: Home, Opinions
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18/02/2020, 9:37 AM
 - Posted by Bul Deng
I like your piece. I felt like responding to Loliyong divisive letter but could not do so since my views might end up misrepresented. However, the Writer himself can testify the level of negative reactions to his controversial letter.
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