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Lack of teachers makes learning hard in Unity State

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By Bonifacio Taban Kuich

June 6, 2012 (BENTIU) - Education in South Sudan’s Unity State is suffering due to absenteeism, lack of teachers, resources and fear of potential future bombings by the Sudan Armed Forces, according to the State’s Minister of Education
Them Machar Kuol.

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Bir Primary Basic pupils stand outside their class, Unity State, South Sudan, 6 June 2012 (Bonifacio Taban/ST)

In Unity State there are 348 primary Basic Schools and 13 secondary schools with the total number of Students and Pupils about 185,276 according to educational authority in the state.

South Sudan became independent in July 9 last year, which has yet to develop its own curriculum syllabus. Within this nine month old of sovereignty there is little to improve on standardised educational affairs.

With underdevelopment in term of infrastructure in the country, the government has found it hard to deliver quick services to rural areas. Over 70% of the populations are illiterate.

One of the great challenges is lacking of trained teachers across the states in South Sudan. However, the few South Sudanese who do get higher qualifications often abandon teaching due to the low pay.

Them Machar Kuol the current and former Minister of Education in Unity State said Wednesday that Unity State’s calendar for Primary School has been affected by April bombardments with Sudan Army Forces in Unity State territory.

South Sudan fought a brief border conflict with Sudan over the disputed territory of Heglig in April. Khartoum denies dropping bombs on South Sudanese territory despite being criticised by the United Nations for doing so.

In some schools within the state capital Bentiu, only few teachers actually report for duty the minister said.

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Unity State Minister for Education, Them Machar Kuol, (right) and South Sudan Education Minister, Joseph Ukel Abanga, during his visit to Unity State, South Sudan, 6 June 2012 (Bonifacio Taban/ST)

Kuol said, there are lots of challenges in terms of in-accessibility of various counties in Unity State, insufficient classrooms to accommodate of pupils, lack of text books in both secondary school and basic primary.

South Sudan is going through a period of austerity as it stopped producing oil at the beginning of the year due to transit fee dispute with Khartoum. Inflation is at 80% and the costs of basic products are extremely high, especially near the closed, tense border with Sudan.ntry.

Nyathijien, a 10 year old, said they lack teachers to educate them because the government is not paying them well. She added that many teachers’ teaches in Arabic rather than English which is the official language of the 11-month-old country.

Thirteen-year-old Nyanhial Thomas from Bir Primary School also told Sudan Tribune that students do not have enough teachers to teach them.

“I’m in primary 5, since we came here last month there is no teacher coming to teach us, we are urging the government of state to do more in employing qualify teachers for us to become a better future children”, said Thomas.

(ST)

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