Southern Sudan: New policy will reduce numbers of teachers
05 February 2010

A teacher at Mahad Primary School in Yei during a science lesson in a congested classroom. JRS trains teachers through four projects in Southern Sudan. (Angelika Mendes/JRS)
In order to improve performance the GoSS reorganised school staff and teachers’ recruitment in 2007.
Kajo Keji, 5 February 2010 The Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) has recently begun implementing a new policy which will filter out primary school teachers who lack valid qualification documents. Consequently, this will create a lack of teachers, as 45 percent of the teachers in Southern Sudan never received any training, and force schools to merge. “For us this means that the number of the current 83 primary schools will be reduced,” says Mr. Wani Benjamin, acting district education officer in Kajo Keji County.

The county education office in Kajo Keji started implementing the new “downsizing” policy at the beginning of the year, taking teachers off the current government payroll who cannot produce valid documents to prove they are qualified to teach in primary schools. “About 200 teachers of the over 700 that are on our list will be dismissed,” says Mr. Wani. “Over 100 teachers have already been disqualified because they could not present their original certificates,” he adds. 

While the policy aims to dismiss teachers who are without a minimum qualification, teachers trained at the National Teachers College in Uganda might also be affected since they have never been officially recruited to teach in schools run by the GoSS. These were advised to teach voluntarily until the government recruits new teachers.

As a consequence of the new policy, schools will have to recruit more qualified teachers and will need to raise school fees in order to pay volunteer teachers. The quality of teaching and learning is likely to deteriorate once schools are left with only a few teachers.

“JRS has already scheduled consultative meetings with the county education authorities and the head teachers to intervene and develop appropriate responses to the challenges the education sector currently faces,” says Mr. Joseph Lisok, JRS Kajo Keji Project Director. “We will think about how to assist those teachers affected. Some have received in-service training and could be sent for proper training,” he adds.

In order to improve performance the GoSS reorganised school staff and teachers’ recruitment in 2007. This led to major staff transfers between schools across Southern Sudan. The academic performance of students in most schools deteriorated because teachers were not trained properly or were not paid regular salaries. 

Since the GoSS took over responsibility of paying teachers salaries in 2006, the irregularity of payments has been a major challenge to quality education, adversely affecting the motivation of the teachers and the quality of teaching. In Kajo Keji, JRS stopped paying incentive salaries to teachers in 2006, after having informed and warned teachers and other education personnel.

Besides criticising the method used to screen them, teachers who were disqualified have demanded immediate payment of all their arrears. Some of them might have an opportunity for in-service training, while others will simply stay at home.

JRS started working in Kajo Keji in 2001, training teachers and providing educational services. The project has expanded rapidly since 2002 and it provides extensive educational support in 26 primary and five secondary schools with 14,000 students.

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