A United Nations education agency official has called for joint support including a political will to promote and transform teachers’ status and living standard to reverse the teacher shortage in South Sudan.
Jasper Okodi, the UNESCO Country Representative in South Sudan stressed the need for diverse mobilization of communities, parents and politicians to support and help transform the teaching profession.
“We need to examine the way in which the education system, societies, communities and families recognize and appreciate the teachers so that at all levels from parents, PTAs, SMCs and to the level of politicians are supporting teachers at all levels,” he said.
“We need to mobilize support and political will of diverse range of leaders to influence relevant partners and stakeholders to support and promoting transforming teachers’ status in the country.”
During the commemoration of the 2023 World teachers’ Day marked on September 5, 2023, the teachers reiterated calls on the government and development partners to improve their living standard.
It was marked under the theme; “the teachers we need for the education we want: The global imperative to reverse the teacher shortage.”
The teachers also shared testimonies, dedication, passion, and commitment of their effort in shaping and building the future of the country.
Abalo Mary, a senior teacher at Eloi Primary and Secondary school in Juba said she expects the government to improve their condition and also make the teaching profession attractive.
According to her, increasing the teacher’s salary will reverse the teacher’s shortage and enable them concentrate on teaching jobs.
“There should be changes like in terms of teachers’ motivation,” Abolo said in an interview with Eye Radio.
“A lot of teachers are crying in terms of financial issues that the payment is not really in line with the workload that they are doing, so I am praying that the teacher’s salary should be increased in order to motivate them and to enable them concentrate in their work,” she added.
In the 2022/2023 fiscal year budget, the Education Ministry was allocated over 107 billion pounds for the first time in the annual national budget, a way to improve the quality of education in South Sudan.
But many teachers in different parts of the country have since echoed calls on the government to increase their salary and address other challenges facing the teaching profession.
Martin Tako, the Deputy Minister of General Education and Instruction has however assured the teachers of better pay effective from July 2023.
Tako added that the government is working hard to address other challenges facing the profession citing the capitation grant is one of the methods.
“I assure you that very soon you will get a better salary to start with and that is not the only thing the government is doing about the teachers besides the capitation grant we sends to schools.”
According to the Ministry of General Education and Instructions, there are about 64,000 teachers serving in community and public schools across the country.
Martin Tako said the education ministry is currently working to empower teachers by training them through the national teacher training institutes to improve the teaching profession in South Sudan.
“Training the teacher is one of our priorities at the Ministry of general education, how do we train the teachers, we must have the institute like Rambur and not only in Central Equatoria, but we have recently renovated Maridi teachers training institute and graduated a number teacher, we have also renovated Mapel teachers training institute and we are doing our level best to do the same in Norther Bahr el Ghazal.”
Some of the recognized and functional national teacher training institutes in the country include, Rambur, Maridi, Maper and Aweil.
“How do we influence the intake to the school like the institute is on and off, how do we raise the appetite of those who comes for training because we need a lot of students to come to the institute.” Diliga Emmanuel, Principal of Rambur National Teacher Training Institute in Juba said.
Diliga expressed doubts about how the institute will be made attractive to those who are willing to study education and become professional teachers.
He added that the institute located west of Juba is expose to security threats and also lacks health service.
“This school doesn’t have any health services we don’t have even first aid kit and therefore in the operation, we will experience a lot of danger as far as health is concern.”
The just rehabilitated Rambur National Teacher Training Institute funded by the Africa Development Bank worth 773,000 US dollars was handed over to the government in September 2023.
The rehabilitation covered lecture halls, Lecturers’ quarters, Water and sanitation facilities, administrative offices, and kitchen facilities.
For her part, the country Representative of the UN Children’s agency UNICEF agrees.
Hamida Lasseko said the agency will continue to support the education sector with necessary resources to reverse the glory of being a teacher.
“We need to continue to collaborate to support out teachers. We can continue to invest in teachers training and profession development I think this is the must we have to continue to do that to provide teachers with adequate resources and support to create positive and supportive work environment for the teachers and we can make teaching better profession to bring back the glory of being a teacher.”
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