“The IMPACT program will benefit me and my family so much and it is going to be the first project of its kind that I am hoping to get a direct impact in terms of provision of basic needs” said Michael Guya Mono, head teacher of Gudele East One Primary School in Juba. He is on the list of first batch of teachers set to receive their first incentive.
Michael has been in the teaching profession for over 30 years and is very pleased with the $40 incentive he is due to receive. He told us his plans for his first incentive payment “first is to buy 25kg of maize flour, a sack of charcoal and 5kg of onions, which I was not able to purchase before, given the delays in salaries payment”.
He pointed out that if this programme continues it will retain and bring back qualified teachers who have left the teaching profession due to low salary, which often does not even come regularly. Michael feels that this program will help motivate teachers. A motivated teacher is more likely to prepare their lessons better, and ultimately transfer quality knowledge and skills to students.
According to Michael, being a teacher in South Sudan is accompanied by many challenges, which include a lack of provision for both teachers and students in the educational environment. Low, irregularly paid salary, shortages of teaching materials and teaching under trees due to the lack classroom space are prime examples. One of his Primary 6 classes has 179 students. This high number of students per class make it difficult for teachers to manage the classroom effectively. There is also a lack of transport, especially in rural areas, for teachers who must come a long way to the school each day. Michael added that “teachers are renting houses and cannot pay their rent due to delays in salary which affects their performance”.
Michael doubts government has the capacity to improve the learning environment in the country at present. While he believes the government is willing, with statements such as, “education is the top priority of the government, this has become like a song, which we (teachers) do not believe in anymore”, Michael comments.
Vivian Yotama Fataki, a female teacher, in the same school, who has been in the profession for over 25 years, explained that for education to be effective in South Sudan the government should provide good security, pay higher salaries to teachers regularly, provide houses to teachers and provide good learning environments for learners and teachers, as well as develop good education policies that can provide quality education across the country. She added that “If the IMPACT programme is implemented it will help to address issues of health, hunger and even building a hut” as education touches on several subjects relevant for community development. Vivian also believes and hopes that if there is lasting peace and political will in the country the education system will improve dramatically, given the human and natural resources in the country and support from development partners.