Academic year 2020, what is different?

By: Ogen Rwot Denish

With many schools opening through last week for 2020 academic year, our country is a home to over 70% of the population being illiterate and 2.2million school eligible children are out of school. A lot remains to be done towards realizing the target of the 2017-2022 general education sector plans.

As the country earnestly waits for the formation of the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGONU) and its stability prospects, something can be done; because our children continue to grow.

Notwithstanding the common knowledge on the critical role of education to peace and development the world over. Different players have their sleeves and boots on for academic year 2020; most of them are however troubled with the question of what can be done differently in our private schools, government run schools, NGO projects in schools, Missions supported education centers.

I am inviting you to reflect with us through the 4 questions

  1. What about the school curriculum?

With the current full roll-out of the English primary school curriculum; many teachers in the northern areas (i.e. Upper Nile, Unity, Bahr el Ghazal) from Arabic pattern have no mastery in English instruction. Despite the efforts from many NGOs and UN; more is yet to be registered in this area, let alone secondary education.

  • What about the parents?

With an estimated 2 million as orphans (SOS children villages), the socio-economic collapse of many households due to the protracted civil war; OCHA (Dec 2019) estimates 7.5million people including 4.1 million children to be in need for assistance i.e. basic services and livelihoods.

Many parents cannot afford a meal let alone a uniform or exercise book to keep a child in school. A handful of parents are doing their level best to ensure their boys and girls are in school; education champions including PTAs across the country need more encouragement to arouse their communities to send and keep boys and girls in schools.

This year’s back to school campaign under the theme “Education for all, all for Education”. At a colourful national event graced by the Deng Deng Hoc Yai, the Minister for General Education and Instruction on 6th February at Juba Day Secondary School; participants were encouraged not only to send but keep boys and girls in school.

  • What about the teachers?

There is a saying that education rides on the teacher. Only 39.8 percent teachers are trained (2016 education census); the numerous efforts to raise this rate are countered by the ability of the government to remunerate and maintain such merited cadres. The overwhelmed teachers with a teacher: Pupil ratio of 1: 45 needs to be equipped with contextual sensitive instruction technics and content.

Since October 2019, Hold the Child, Reconstituted-Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (R-JMEC) and partners are working together to equip teachers with necessary information and aids to disseminate and increase ownership of the Revitalised Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) across their communities. Equipping teachers provides an important opportunity to pass key messages to learners and into their homes and communities. The activity will too advance into school based performance competitions (co-curricular activities) on key elements of the R-ARCSS among other contextual sensitive messages.

The recent round of activities held in Wau on 30-31st January 2020, involved 99 teachers from 50 schools and saw more partners i.e. ‘Romeo Dallaire Child Soldier Initiative’ and ‘Non-violence Peace Force’ come abode. More partners are welcome to do their part to bring everlasting peace in South Sudan, and prepare smart leaders for tomorrow.

  • What about the Communities and the Leadership?

It takes a village to raise a child (an African Proverb); this calls for collectiveness in child care, discipline and education. I have a role to play; my neighbours have a role, just like you. We can encourage weak and ignorant parents to send boys and girls to school; we can hold parents who are carelessly parenting and denying the children of South Sudan a change to attend school accountable. Our leaders should lead by examples.

The author works for a National NGO ‘Hold the Child’. He can be reached via: 0912382751/50/60 Email: info@holdthechild.org  

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