Go Public! Empowering teachers to transform the future of South Sudan
Go Public! Empowering teachers to transform the future of South Sudan

Go Public! Empowering teachers to transform the future of South Sudan

published 21 March 2024 updated 21 March 2024

“We have been abandoned,” is the sentiment expressed by teachers in South Sudan as they organise to bring urgent attention to the dire situation of education in a crisis context that requires immediate international response and support. The extreme conditions they face were made clear during a gathering of union leaders as part of Education International’s Go Public! Fund Education campaign meeting held in Juba, on March 18-19.

EI’s member organisation, the National Teachers Union of South Sudan (NTUSS), explained that South Sudan is grappling with a severe teacher shortage, compounded by the challenges of retention and a declining recruitment rate in initial teacher education. Classrooms are overcrowded, with some teachers managing more than 100 students each, conditions that are not conducive to learning. The scarcity of basic teaching materials and the dilapidated state of educational infrastructure only serve to further demoralize the teaching profession in the country.

Compensation for teachers in South Sudan is alarmingly low, ranging from a mere US $9 per month for high school graduates in primary education settings, to US $90 per month for teachers with over 20 years of experience. Yet, these figures become even more disheartening with the revelation that teachers have not received regular payments since August 2023, except delayed payments for July 2023 disbursed in January 2024.

EI’s General Secretary, David Edwards, highlighted the dire situation facing educators in South Sudan, emphasizing the urgent need for global solidarity and support: “The challenges faced by South Sudan’s educators are a call to action for the global community. It is imperative that we rally behind the NTUSS’s plea for international support to ensure that teachers in South Sudan, and in similar crisis-affected contexts, receive the recognition, support, and compensation they rightfully deserve.”

“The Go Public! Fund Education campaign by Education International is immensely relevant to our situation,“ stated Garang Deng Kuol Athian, chairman of the NTUSS. “It offer us a valuable opportunity to mobilise a greater number of teachers to directly address the critical issues we are currently facing. This initiative is not only for the benefit of teachers, it has profound implications for our students as well. A well-supported teacher is better equipped to provide quality education. The campaign is a vital step towards ensuring a brighter future for both our teachers and students. “

Implementing the UN High Level Panel recommendations

During the Go Public! Fund Education campaign meeting, the NTUSS rallied around the recently launched recommendations of the UN High-Level Panel on the Teaching Profession, particularly emphasizing the need to protect and elevate the status and dignity of teachers, as stated in recommendations 14 and 12. These recommendations call for timely, adequate, and regular salaries for teachers, especially those working in crisis settings.

Moreover, the union is advocating for the implementation of broader recommendations aimed at ensuring transparent education spending, free from the influence of austerity measures and the restrictive policies of International Financial Institutions like the International Monitory Fund. These include calls for the elimination of public sector wage bill constraints and austerity measures that negatively affect teacher recruitment, retention, and wages.

A Global Fund for Teachers' Salaries

The NTUSS is committed to promoting the UN High-Level Panel recommendations among its members and stakeholders, aiming to foster coordinated and institutionalized social dialogue as a cornerstone for developing comprehensive education policies. In a poignant appeal, the union has called upon Education International to champion the establishment of a Global Fund for Teachers' Salaries, as outlined in recommendation 54. This fund would provide essential support for the timely and regular payment of salaries to teachers in crisis-affected areas, offering a lifeline to those who are most vulnerable.