Analyses Education

Analysis: Education is a key determinant of socio – economic transformation and development in South Sudan

By Simon El Hag Kulusika, Lusaka, Zambia

Children sit on the floor inside a classroom in Konyokonyo camp for the internally displaced people(Photo: file)
Children sit on the floor inside a classroom in Konyokonyo camp for the internally displaced people(Photo: file)

October 21, 2020 (Nyamilepedia) — Different educators and researchers give differing definitions of education. A simple definition found in a dictionary is that education is the acquisition of knowledge to read, write and ability to solve arithmetic questions snd equations. To this one may add  to enhance ‘intellectual growth ‘ for a lifelong endeavours of ‘thoughtful adults’. This suggests that education must have purposes that educational system must pursue and attain.

Among the purposes of education the following must be mentioned. 1. To preserve, and pave ways for changes,  the values, beliefs, customs, rites, knowledge for societal existence and so forth. 2. To provide for orderly transformation of society. 3. To enable children and adults to learn. 4. To produce thoughtful and critical thinking individuals in the society. 5. To prepare adults for better jobs. 6. To set and draw a map for the future.

Education for me is to create functional adults that can initiate, innovate, mediate conflicts, think critically before taking decisions that have impacts on society.

It’s not possible to realise the preceding and succeed in achieving the goals of education.  Unless education programmes and curricula are carefully and well  designed and funded. The first thing to be considered in educational planning and programming is the issues of language. What is the primary and secondary languages of instructions or learning? In the case of SS the primary language of learning or instructions is English language.

No doubt in this as the Official language of the Republic of South Sudan is English language. A language that has become universal. Even the Chinese are using it in their educational institutions. As regards secondary languages, there is no agreement among educators and politicians,  in fact this secondary languages have been taken for granted resulting in confusion as it happened in the past. By secondary languages is meant a language of the child’s ethnic group that the child should learn, read and write in order for the child to preserve his or her culture.

This should be applicable from nursery 1, 2, to grade  4 primary school. For example, a child in Owingi Kibul should begin nursery 1 in the Achuoli language in addition to English language. He or she should continue in this way through nursery 2 to primary 4. From primary 5 the pupil should be given option to continue learning Achuoli language or abandon it altogether. From Secondary school 1 to 4 another universal language, eg, French, Arabic, Chinese, German, should be introduced in addition to two South Sudanese languages recognised under the constitution.

The school authority will decide which universal language to introduce as well as the two languages found in SS provided for under the constitution. In this way the educational system keeps the culture of the people alive while exposing learners to new cultures. Cities, towns and other urban areas pose additional challenges to educators regarding which language to use at nursery 1 – 2 and from primary 1 – 4, due to complexity of the population in those locations.

For example,  in Juba: which language should be used in nursery 1 – 2 and 1- 4 primary? Bari or Dinka or Nuer, or Latuko  or Zande? Because of this in Juba and other urban locations, I suggest what I call ‘languages of Convenience’. In the case of Juba the languages of convenience are Bari and Dinka. These two languages should be used in the manner indicated above. In the case of Wau Luo and Ndongo are the languages of convenience or Ndongo and Dinka.

In Awiel the language of convenience is Dinka, in Malakal  and Renk the languages of convenience are Shielluk  and Dinka, not Arabic as it’s a universal language, and so forth. The choices to be made must be carefully and thoughtfully orchastrated to avoid disagreement between parents and school authorities.

Infrastructures: these include school buildings and buildings for public institutions of higher learning, textbooks, and new and reformed carricula. There should be expansion in primary and secondary education.  Pupils should not walk or travel long distances to access learnings. Secondary schools should not be confined to cities and towns. They must spread to rural areas.

Travel long distances is inhibition to pursuing education. It discourages parents to send children to far places. In addition to difficulties of transport. Some nurseries and all primary and secondary schools should have swimming pools to enhance physical education. Primary and secondary schools should also have modern Gymnasium to be used for physical education that should be the focus of educational authorities across SS.

Sports of all kinds can make great contribution to SS in terms of economic development.

Teaching Staffs: most teachers in schools in SS are not trained. They may have the necessary qualifications but without the requisite training to make them competent to teach. There is in this case need for intensive training. This calls for the establishment of training institutes for teachers of all levels of schools.

The number of trained teachers must be tripled to reduce disparities in ratio between teacher and pupil. What has been said also applies to teachers at nurseries. School should introduce new subjects for learning such as civic education, physical educstion, agricultural sciences and veterinary subjects in addition to elementary subjects on environment.

College and University Education: this must be oriented to produce highly competitive cadres to push the frontiers of economic development as far as they can. The educated and highly qualified cadres are the engine for prosperty and peace. To enable them play that roles learning carricula must be designed with those roles in mind.

New courses must be introduced that are relevant to the needs of contemporary society. New courses on Gender issues and studies, peace and conflicts studies and environmental studies. SS must change and the change can be possible if there are persons with high qualifications  to effect the change.

Higher education is supposed to enable them realise changes in the society. Apart from effective and flexible carricula, there is need for higher enrolment at public colleges and universities, supplemented by learning at private colleges and universities. The capacities of public colleges and must be enhanced. Terms and conditions of service must be improved to prevent These brain drain.

Higher learning institutions must introduce courses at postgraduate levels on research in social sciences and natural sciences. With greater attention given to natural sciences. These are important if higher learning is to be meaningful and effective in developmental activities for SS.

The author, Prof. Simon El Hag Kulusika (ZAOU, Lusaka), is a concerned citizen of South Sudan, Arapi, Pa-Geri County, Eastern Equatoria State of South Sudan. He can be reached via his email address: pa352128@gmail.com

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