Southern Sudan: Teachers play important role in building peace
19 February 2010

Teachers serve as role models and are meant to establish a spirit of unity. (Angela Hellmuth/JRS)
Teachers who can provide quality education and who are respected by the students can teach them useful skills and knowledge, thus promoting stability, mutual respect and tolerance.

Juba, 18 February 2010 — In post-war Southern Sudan, teachers have a particular responsibility to promote a culture of peace and reconciliation.

“As human beings we acquire virtues through learning,” says Francis Biryaho, JRS Education Officer for Southern Sudan. “Therefore, well trained, inspiring and respected teachers are vital in promoting peace in Southern Sudan,” he adds. “On the other hand, if teachers lack the resources to carry out their work properly, conflicts in the communities are likely to continue.”

The Southern Sudan Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST) acknowledged this fact and recently organised a peace education workshop for teachers that attracted around 30 education managers from all 10 states of Southern Sudan. The workshop aimed to train teachers on conflict resolution, communication and reconciliation. 

Indeed, a school is a place where children not only learn reading, writing and numeracy but also to appreciate values and to respect norms. Teachers who can provide quality education and who are respected by the students can teach them useful skills and knowledge, thus promoting stability, mutual respect and tolerance. They can also serve as role models, helping to establish a spirit of unity and love. Children will begin to appreciate and internalise these values and they will learn about their responsibilities. A good teacher will also be able to teach the students about the value of human rights and solidarity as well as the rights and duties of a citizen.

In 2009, 2,500 people have been killed in the south, many of them in tribal violence. The referendum on southern independence is less than a year ahead and major steps must be taken to end ethnic strife now. “Having children from different states in one school can help reduce tribalism, prejudices and discrimination,” an education official said at a recent workshop organised by the Education, Reconstruction and Development Forum. “If, at school, children play, eat, sleep, dance and study together they are likely to become friends across tribal lines,” he added.

To neglect moral and peace education at school will adversely affect the peace building and development process in Southern Sudan. Therefore, cross-cutting issues such as peace education, gender equality, ethics or HIV/AIDS must be integrated into the school curriculum and taken seriously by those responsible. For this reason, JRS had submitted a suggestion for a peace education curriculum to the MOEST in 20067 but for various reasons it has so far not been possible to integrate it into the curriculum. However, only a holistic education that comprises both, academic and practical issues, can ultimately contribute to a sustainable peace.

Given the low percentage of trained teachers in Southern Sudan, it seems, however, unrealistic to expect teachers to contribute on a large scale to the peace process. A teacher that suffers hunger and is desperate is unlikely to become a role model for the students. Teachers therefore need all necessary support, such as a reliable salary, medical cover, retiring benefits and possibilities for further training in order to form their students well. With due support and respect, teachers will be able to make a considerable contribution to peace in Southern Sudan.







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Angelika Mendes
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