|After two decades of civil war, Kajo Keji is in the process of building a comprehensive education system from scratch. (photo by Angela Hellmuth for JRS)|
|"A lesson is a planned set of learning activities designed to achieve a specific outcome. Most lessons are short, so they need a limited number of objectives. It is straightforward; good work plans lead to well designed lessons," said JRS Southern Sudan Education Officer, Francis Biryaho.|
By Francis Biryaho, JRS Education Officer, Juba, JRS Southern Sudan
(Kajo Keji, Southern Sudan) September 28, 2010 – Since the introduction of the new common school curriculum in Southern Sudan, very little training has been provided to teachers on its implementation. With skilled resources in short supply, the government lacks the capacity to ensure the planned changes are introduced.
After two decades of civil war, Kajo Keji is in the process of building a comprehensive education system from scratch. Between 2006 and 2009, more than 21,000 displaced persons returned to Kajo Keji, putting further pressure on the already weak educational structures. While the ministry has made progress in establishing educational structures, an estimated 65 percent of state teachers are untrained.
At the end of August, JRS organized a four-day workshop to bring 20 primary school teachers in the most southern border county of Kajo Keji up to date with their new obligations. The workshop examined the content of the new curriculum and how it should be best implemented.
Hungry for guidance and information, teachers were offered materials and tips on how to teach the new subjects. They were introduced to concepts such as work schemes and lesson plans and their importance in promoting quality learning. Emphasis was placed on advancing planning for teaching and learning, dividing their class preparation into subjects, topics and subtopics.
"A lesson is a planned set of learning activities designed to achieve a specific outcome. Most lessons are short, so they need a limited number of objectives. It is straightforward; good work plans lead to well designed lessons," said JRS Southern Sudan Education Officer, Francis Biryaho.
After the initial sessions, participants were asked to draw up their own work schemes and lesson plans.
Participants were told how the implementation of the curriculum depended on their relationships with the key actors involved in the process: students, teachers, parents, school management (parent-teacher associations), communities, and local and central government officials.
"These actors need to be involved as much as possible in monitoring and evaluating the school curriculum, and this is an ongoing process that should measure progress towards the education program goals. The aim of monitoring is to ensure objectives stipulated in the curriculum/syllabus are achieved," added Mr Biryaho.
Monitoring helps teachers ensure the materials are appropriate and inclusive. He further urged teachers to push for the recruitment of external evaluators, describing it as the only effective way of measuring progress. The findings then should be shared with those responsible for revising, drafting and implementing the curriculum to ensure changes respond to actual needs.
JRS has worked in Kajo Keji since 2000. Last year, JRS supported more than 11,000 primary and secondary students and approximately 500 teachers and student teachers. The organization also provided training to parent-teacher associations, school management committees and boards, and government officials.
JRS believes that education is important for the development and sustainability of individuals and communities that are rebuilding their lives after years of conflict, as is the case in Sudan.
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