OPINION: EDUCATION AS A TOOL FOR NATIONAL BUILDING AND SOCIAL TRANSFORMATION: THE SPLM-IO PHILOSOPHY AND IDEOLOGICAL ORIENTATION

By Daniel Deng Mario,

Khartoum, Sudan.

South Sudan school girls from unidentified location in the capital Juba (File photo)

South Sudan school girls from unidentified location in the capital Juba (File photo)

Jan 27, 2020(Nyamilepedia) — The vision of the SPLM-IO is to promotethe unity of South Sudanese.The SPLM-IO is aware of the fact that for South Sudan to achieve strong national unity, it must eliminate or combat racism, tribalism, political sectarianism, gender insensitivity, religious intolerance and all other forms of discrimination in the country. This is the reason Article 9 clause 9.2 imposes the duty on every member of the SPLM-IO to combat them. In the Preamble of our Constitution, it is our duty is to guide the people of South Sudan and ensure that we protect their hard won freedom, unity in diversity and dignified peace. 

In the same Preamble, we acknowledge that people of South Sudan have struggled for generations to achieve their freedom and dignity against a backdrop of long history of conflicts, injustices, dictatorships, poverty, and violation of human rights and constitutional instability that was the hallmark of South Sudan. Thus, the philosophy of the SPLM-IO is to buildthe prosperous nation where citizens enjoy their freedom and unity in diversity which further imposes on us the duty to protect the interest of South Sudan both internally and externally.

 In doing that the SPLM-IO is sure of building strong nation based on political social and economic equality.The Preamble of the Constitution of SPLM-IO acknowledges this by stating our Movement is inspired by the vision to build a new nation from which all political, social and economic disparities in the country are removed as enshrined in the SPLM Manifesto. This is the incentive and motivation to participate in leading and contributing effectively in State and Nation building. 

The SPLM-IO in its philosophy or ideology is committed to building a better future for the people of South Sudan by establishing a federal democratic and developmental State with an equitable socio-economic and political order based on the principles of freedom, equality, democracy, justice, and respect for human rights, progress and prosperity. Through clause 3.8 of Article 3 the SPLM guarantees freedom of expression, circulation of useful ideas and information sharing within the Movement. 

The above freedoms are to be achieved by implementing Article 5 in clause 5.13, which provides the National Policy of the SPLM-IO that is towards self-reliance and economic self-sufficiency and balanced urban-rural development. This is the meaning of taking towns to people not as the government understands it. In plain the SPLM-IO understands taking towns to people to mean taking services to people not the physical towns to people.  

The SPLM-IO believes that Article 6 in clause 6.1 is the basis of its vision and goal which are to build a Country, based on a just, democratic, secular system of governance, and popular participation of its entire people.  This can be done through creating national consciousness and common purpose through the liberation of the individual and society from all forms of political, economic and social constraints (clause 6.2). 

In creating national consciousness and common purpose through the liberation of the individual and society from all forms of political, economic and social constraints, the SPLM-IO looks at education as the major means of achieving it. In understanding of the SPLM-IO, education is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits.Hence, educational methods include teaching, training, storytelling, discussion and directed research. Education frequently takes place under the guidance of educators, however learners can also educate themselves (Dewey, John, Democracy and education, (1994)).

Based on the above definition of education, the SPLM-IO wants education in South Sudan to achieve its main purpose which is the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits.These are what constitute the quality education. The quality education is the concept that educational process that instils moral standards to create more civil and democratic societies. Quality education is also called values education, which promotes tolerance and understanding above and beyond our political, cultural and religious differences, putting special emphasis on the defense of human rights, the protection of ethnic minorities and the most vulnerable groups, and the conservation of the environment.

The SPLM-IO therefore believes in equality education policy and education in our understanding isn’t the number of schools a country has nor is it determined by a big number of teachers in that country but it is education that enables people to develop all of their attributes and skills to achieve their potential as human beings and members of society. This makes theSPLM-IO believe that “education is at the heart of both personal and community development; its mission is to enable each of us, without exception, to develop all our talents to the full and to realize our creative potential, including responsibility for our own lives and achievement of our personal aims.”

The SPLM-IO believes in education that promotes the general wellbeing of the people, which is a tool of eradicating poverty and to attain Sustainable Development.Through education therefore, the SPLM-IO hopes to promote and encourage scientific research and adopt appropriate modern technologies. In that respect, education in understanding of the SPLM-IO is to ensure gender equality and promote socio-economic, cultural and political empowerment of women. This will help South Sudanese to realize and ensure economic self-sufficiency and self-reliance for the people. 

The education that the SPLM-IO wants to promote is one that gives citizens duties to protect and preserve the environment, ensure sustainable utilization of natural resources and promote environmental sustainability. When the people are independent and educated, they can protect, uphold and promote the unity of the people of the Country.It is on this ground, the SPLM-IO wants to correct the defects or bad education the current government is promoting in the country. 

The government of South Sudan is promoting education without any respect and values. It is better even for one to be without documents as those without documents are more favored by the system than those who duly attended classes and legally got the correct papers. Education in South Sudan is money oriented education which renders papers useless. This is explained by the fact that the type of education in South Sudan looks at education as a means of getting rich but not as a means of building the conduct and behavior of the learners. 

It is the type of education that resembles education which one of the lecturers in a South African University one time commented on when he wrote an expressive message to his students at the doctorate, masters and bachelors level and placed it at the entrance of the college. That lecturer wrote thus—

“Collapsing any Nation does not require use of Atomic bombs or the use of Long range missiles. But it requires lowering the quality of Education and allowing cheating in the exams by the students. The patient dies in the hands of the doctor who passed his exams through cheating; And the buildings collapse in the hands of an engineer who passed his exams through cheating.

And the money is lost in the hands of an accountant who passed his exams through cheating; And humanity dies in the hands of a religious scholar who passed his exams through cheating.

And justice is lost in the hands of a judge who passed his exams through cheating; And ignorance is rampant in the minds of children who are under the care of a teacher who passed exams through cheating. The collapse of education is the collapse of the Nation” Shoddy laws are made by the politician who passed exams through cheating. Half or unverified information is given by the journalist who passed exams through cheating.

Unjustifiable/unpatriotic actions are supported by citizens who passed exams through cheating. Substandard works are done by the public/civil servant who passed exams through cheating. Half/subjective analysis is given by civil society organizations whose leaders passed exams through cheating. Uninspiring leadership is given by the leader who passed exams through cheating. Indeed, the collapse of Education is the collapse of the Nation. 

The type of education South Sudan is promoting is one of the confused type which is exactly depicted in the description of education above. The education in our country encourages cheating. It is sad to find that majority of South Sudanese students want papers only just to use them as a means to get something and because of that they do not care about values of education that promotes nation building. As a matter of fact, many students from South Sudan within and abroad have been involved in forgeries and jumping of classes intentionally to finish earlier.  For instance, if one was to go to the office of education attaché in the Embassy of the Republic of South Sudan in the Republic of Uganda one may find thousands of forged documents and more are in different hands in office in South Sudan. This is bad for the nation building. 

South Sudan has collapsed due to the type of education it is promoting. South Sudan is supposed to adopt education of a major tool in nation-building. Quality education helps inconstructing or structuring a national identity through the use of power of the state, which is used in guiding citizens in their education. This is only possible when nation ensures quality education. Education that encourages the university in diversity thataims at the unification of the people within the state so that the nation remains politically stable and viable in the long run. This is according to Harris Mylonas, “Legitimate authority in modern national states is connected to popular rule, to majorities. Nation-building is the process through which these majorities are constructed.”

In summary, the SPLM-IO wants to use education as a tool for national building and social transformation, which is the basis of its philosophy and ideological orientation. The SPLM-IO takes the initiative to develop the national South Sudanese community through government programs such as military conscription and national building through mass schooling. This involves the use of propaganda or major infrastructure development to foster social harmony and economic growth. The SPLM-IO wants to adopt the Columbia University political scientist Andreas Wimmer three factors tend to determine the success of nation-building over the long-run, which are: “the early development of civil-society organizations, the rise of a state capable of providing public goods evenly across a territory, and the emergence of a shared medium of communication.” 

The author can be reached at mariodeng88@gmail.com


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