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Teachers in Central Equatoria lack wages, pupils struggle to learn

Alison Lemeri
Teachers in South Sudan’s Central Equatoria State face a daily struggle to teach children, often working without wages and basic equipment, pupils and teachers say.
14.10.2014  |  Yei
Pupils at Yei Freedom Square on World Teachers’ Day 2014, October 5.
Pupils at Yei Freedom Square on World Teachers’ Day 2014, October 5.

Moral is running low, according to Jane Sadia, a teacher from the Christian Missionary Fellowship, whose salary is regularly delayed. Sometimes teachers receive salaries months late. We have a number of teachers and even voluntary ones who are not trained,” she says.

Another teacher, Maliamungu Emmanuel, says the bad conditions prompted some to leave the profession. He also says there are few chances for the promotion of long serving teachers. A teacher can work for a long time without being taken to another level. We have to be motivated as teachers in all areas. The salary of teachers have to be improved.”

Sometimes teachers receive salaries months late.”
Jane Sadia
Students say delayed payment of teachers’ salaries causes exam failure, as teachers are not motivated enough. Alex Mowa, a pupil, tells how he and his classmates are sent home after either one or two lessons, even though five subjects are scheduled in the timetable.

Sometimes teachers teach two different subjects in the school,” says Mawa a pupil studying at Kinji primary school, which is owned by the government, adding that student teachers are helping them cover some
subjects he should have learnt already. In some subjects you need to struggle to get enough notes.”

St. Paul Primary School pupil, Cosmas Karaba, says he spends his
time playing games outside or returns home early when there are no
lessons. Teachers do not teach well in some months. Pupils just stay outside and play or go home,” he says.

Secondary schools face similar problems including a shortage of teachers and limited lessons coverage according to Paul Dimade Daniel, student of Yei Day secondary school, a government owned institution.

In some subjects you need to struggle to get enough notes.”
The teaching is not perfect. We have at least six subjects per day,
but I don’t know what is going wrong? Sometimes three or four
lessons are taught,” Paul says.

Teachers and union members, meanwhile, complain of lack of inadequate financial resources to attract new teachers.

There is completely lack of provision of enough financial and social support to attract more suitable persons to the teaching career, Yusto Dada, Yei County teachers’ Union Chairperson explains, adding that there are no clear systematic arrangement to offer capacity building to those teachers interested in teaching. There are not enough courses available.”

Although many people in South Sudan want to learn and love education, their hopes are dashed by the big challenges affecting the sector.

For instance in Yei, a county with a high population and many schools, around 75% of teachers are not trained.

The County Education Director, Philip Taban attributed this to the current conflict and the education ministry’s decision to cut the number of teachers in 2013.

Minister of Education Central Equatoria State, Hastin Yokwe on World Teachers’ Day 2014, October 5.
© The Niles | A.L.
There are few teachers due to the downsizing of 2013. This has left
most of our schools vulnerable. About 400 teachers were laid off,” Taban says, adding that some schools survive because of volunteers. Some schools have only one teacher.”

According to Taban, Yei has about 205 schools, including 120 primary,
20 secondary and 65 nursery schools and more than 40,000 students this year, but few teachers.

Of the 402 teachers working there, 332 are male and only 70 are female, he says.

Hastin Yokwe, the State Education Minster says teachers’ training is the responsibility of the national Ministry of Education. I want to inform you that the responsibility of teachers training lies on the national government,” Yokwe tells teachers in Yei, pointing that five teachers training institutions will be established by the national ministry this year.

He says that officials had recently sat with teachers to discuss conditions but the current violence and political struggles have stalled planned reforms.