South Sudan: Teacher development is the backbone of JRS
16 September 2012

Children enjoy a lesson at JRS-supported Kabi Secondary School, Kajo Keji, South Sudan. Sergi Camara/JRS
A good lesson can transform the lives of students and can eventually lead to a more dignified life.
Kajo Keji, 19 September 2012 - A one-day discussion to review the impact of the JRS-supported School Development Team (SDT) concept in South Sudanese schools revealed the programme helps promote enhanced professionalism and quality of teaching in the schools.

Attended by the County Education Inspector and teacher representatives from four JRS-supported schools in Kajo Keji, the open forum focused on reviewing the impact of SDTs in four key areas - classroom supervision, mentoring of teachers, assessment of pupils and monitoring of teachers.

The SDT is a tool to support teacher growth and professionalism and has been introduced by JRS in most of its education projects in South Sudan. Selected head teachers and outstanding senior teachers are trained to form the SDT in each school. The role of the SDT has been to improve science and maths in secondary schools, and monitor the learning process to ensure teachers are professional in their approach.

Each of the four schools shared their experiences of the SDT and the JRS Kajo Keji Project Director fed back regarding academic performance. The JRS National Coordinator explained the challenges of teaching and learning in the areas of science and mathematics in JRS-supported schools.

The impact of professional training

During the initial implementation of the SDTs there were challenges in some schools. Some teachers reported shame and embarrassment in being supervised or monitored. Others feared they were being spied on. Some refused to be supervised, arguing that they were fully trained and did not need further advice.

However these early concerns in the most part have been alleviated as teachers have gradually realised the benefits of the SDT and the support it can bring to professional development.

Techniques such as 'team teaching' (where two or more teachers share a lesson) can help advance pupil development, create a more stimulating lesson, and lift the burden from teachers. Developing comprehensive schemes of work, lesson planning and monthly meetings are also techniques which help with organisation and planning.

"Teacher development is the backbone of JRS" said Dr Francis Birayho at the event. "A good lesson can transform the lives of students and can eventually lead to a more dignified life" he added.

In May 2012, the impact of JRS's work in education in South Sudan was clearly evidenced in very positive results from the 2011 South Sudan Certificate of Education (SSCSE). Out of the ten best-performing candidates, six were from schools supported by JRS, and out of the 100 best-performing candidates, 72 were from JRS-supported schools.

The day ended on a positive note with concrete plans for further improvements. The teacher representatives resolved to strengthen their operations by incorporating team teaching; setting annual objectives, mentoring new teachers, strengthening classroom supervision, and devising joint schemes of work.

JRS has been operating in Kajo Keji since 2001. During the two-decade long war in Sudan most of the infrastructure was damaged and education facilities and teachers were severely lacking. Education (primary, secondary and adult literacy) as a way of promoting peace and re-building South Sudan has been a major focus for JRS, with SDTs being one of the tools used to support teacher professional development. JRS has worked with local education institutions to build the capacity of teachers and put in place effective monitoring and training systems to ensure sustainability after JRS withdraws from the project at the end of 2012.

By Dr. Francis Biryaho, Education Coordinator, JRS South Sudan

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