OpEd, Politics

Ten factors to strengthen education system and institutions in South Sudan [Part 2]

By Philip Abiel

…. from the last issue

Competent Administrators and Teachers. After working for thirty-five years in a leadership role, John C. Maxwell said that “everything rises and falls on leadership”. Hence, for the education system and institutions to be strong in South Sudan and achieve their objectives and targets, we need competent educational Administrators and leaders who have the leadership ability to execute educational policies, regulations, curriculum and syllabus, and educational programs, take care of infrastructure, utilities, and facilities, and monitor pupils, students, and teachers all together strictly without compromise for whatever reason, nor should they harm any person or student in the name of standardizing the educational system in South Sudan when taking corrective measures where it is necessary.

Without such leadership in place, everything that we do will come to naught because nobody will control and protect resources and educational institutions, including human resource development.

The government or other stakeholders can build and make the construction of the best infrastructures and facilities and provide them with modern and good equipment and utilities, but without good, competent, patriotic, and nationalist leaders who have a patriotic and good heart to take care of those facilities and equipment; don’t be supervised that within one year you will find that everything has been stolen and taken into houses for personal use and the rest are being destroyed under the watch of those incompetent, and un-patriotic administrators because always such incompetent Administrators and Leaders do not differentiate between personal belongings and public assets; as they consider themselves the owners of public assets since they are the final authorities of those institutions; which is totally wrong and un-healthy mentality that has been adopted here in South Sudan by many people.

That is why some Administrators and Leaders enrich themselves with the public money of those institutions, leaving them weak and unproductive. Therefore, any educational institution cannot and will never be strong and produce standard output unless it is led by competent Administrators.

Likewise, we need competent teachers who have that heart of patriotism and nationalism and have adequate knowledge to dispatch and deliver the correct content to our children adequately and accurately, in a smooth manner, taking care of our children very well and teaching them like their own children.

A competent teacher will teach the whole syllabus honestly and go the extra mile. They know the methodology of handling cases of young and elderly children at the school, following all fatherhood and motherhood procedures and processes of bringing up his or her children in a good and positive manner, inculcating good manners and ethical behaviors as well as respect in the children.

But how can a teacher be considered competent without training? Most of our teachers are not trained! Most of our school administrators do not have enough experience and training! How will they lead and teach our children well? That is why there are examination leakages and cheating; all kinds of malpractices are being exercised in South Sudan after independence, simply because we have incompetent Administrators and incompetent teachers.

That is why, now, some administrators are taking public money from government corporations, and you ask them why they are doing it. They will ask you a simple question: who is the Headteacher, headmaster, director general, or vice chancellor of the university, for that matter? Those are questions of incompetent Administrators or Leaders, which means that they consider themselves the final and last authority to do whatever they want to do; unfortunately, there is no accountability in South Sudan, and that is why many people are continuing to do it.

Now, all over the world, not just in South Sudan, those incompetent teachers teach nothing in the classes, including even those at the University level. They just teach very shallow content, confused and irrelevant materials, lose class management, and give in to their role to be intimidated by students and allow students to give them directives to sell or leak examinations to students. And as such, nothing good can come out of that system and institution—forget about being a strong and standard one.

That is why now when some of our students go abroad for further studies, they face academic difficulties because of the weak and shallow academic background and foundation that they have acquired here in South Sudan.

Some of them are dismissed from their studies simply because they didn’t pass through a rigorous check and balance because of those incompetent Administrators and incompetent teachers.

An incompetent Administrator and Teacher can fail the whole country, not even the educational system and institutions alone because they just look at their own personal interests rather than the interests of the whole country and the whole nation for hundreds of years to come.

So, if South Sudan wanted to have a strong and effective system and institutions in all sectors, not just education, it should employ and assign competent cadres and not pensioners, because pensioners will behave like dying horses that don’t think of the future.

Now the people of South Sudan are appreciating Professor John Akec, the Vice Chancellor of the University of Juba because he is a competent administrator and leader who has a vision and heart for his nation. He wanted to leave his imprint at the University of Juba for history.

Now the history of Professor John Akec is written, for he is an innovative and creative leader, using the intellectuality and knowledge that he has acquired to upgrade and standardize the university’s infrastructure and facilities.

That is what a competent administrator or leader can do, not like other administrators who keep complaining and shifting blame to others or to the government. That is why, when you visit other Universities, you feel ashamed to have such Universities in South Sudan. Some of the Universities in South Sudan do not differ from secondary schools; in fact, some other secondary schools are better than some of the Universities that are operating now in South Sudan.

Imagine if lecturers could fight over lecture halls and offices; then has that university satisfied all conditions to become a University? But what is the problem? The problem is not a University as such; the problem is the incompetent administrator who is running the University.

So always, when you see mess and confusion anywhere in the world, it means the presence of incompetent leadership. So, the other Universities that are not doing well in the country are not doing well not just because of a lack of money but also because of the incompetence and lack of patriotism in the hearts of their leaders, which has affected the leadership in those institutions.

The school calendar is the school plan for the academic activities that must be followed strictly within a specific period of time to accomplish educational goals that have been set by the National Ministry of General Education and Instruction.

This school calendar needs strict and proper management with care and seriousness because it is affected by many factors that include human and unhuman-made factors. The un-human-made factors include natural calamities such as flooding, drought, heat that causes a lack of water, and critical diseases that kill children in the shortest period of time.

The man-made factors that could affect the school calendar include insecurity, fire outbreaks in schools, the removal of head teachers or the dismissal of some teachers in the middle of the academic year, food insecurity, and so on. Those factors can cause the school calendar not to run well if it is not managed carefully and seriously.

The calendar is severely affected by the wrong season in which it is placed, especially the hot season from February to April in South Sudan. That season is the wrong one for the school calendar as it is extremely hot, followed by a high level of dehydration due to limited water, and causes meningitis diseases that kill a lot of people, particularly children who are vulnerable to such diseases in sub-Saharan Africa and other hot places in the world such as Australia and Brazil, for that matter.

So the school calendar in South Sudan should not be mistakenly set to be run in the dry season for pupils, and students will learn nothing as teachers do not do effective teaching; while administrators would exert double efforts to have the calendar run anyhow because it was just decided like that by the Ministry when those young children come back home in the evening and you look at them, you will see all their bodies are covered with sweets and very dirty because of the too much heat, then in such a situation the outcome would be deplorable, and all the efforts that were exerted would be considered wasted.

Therefore, when a school calendar wants to be designed, let them call for assistance from educational professors and experts who are present in plenty in the country from the Universities to present adequate and accurate advice that would support the development of a good and friendly school calendar that should be run during the rainy and winter seasons……to be continued


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