5 October 2020 South Sudan joins the community of nations to celebrate the World Teachers’ Day under the theme “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimaging the future”.
The COVID-19 pandemic challenges already constrained education systems in various new ways resulting in re-thinking how teachers teach or work. Leadership among teachers has been somewhat neglected amongst the multitude of issues facing the teaching profession in the push towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 4 and other education-related 2030 goals. Yet leadership among teachers as they respond to the corona virus crisis is critical in terms of the contributions teachers provide for remote learning, support vulnerable populations, re-open schools, and ensure that learning gaps in the curriculum are being mitigated. The theme chosen this year for the World Teachers Day also considers the role of teachers in building resilience and shaping the future of education and the teaching profession.
“The World Teachers Day is one of the most important events in our education calendar in South Sudan”, said H.E. Awut Deng Acuil, Minister of General Education and Instruction. “As we celebrate the day today, we are celebrating the teaching profession. It is a day for all of us in managerial duty or supporting the Government to deliver on its duty, and for those doing research on the teaching profession and teachers’ issues to take stock of achievements. We also take this occasion as a moment to draw attention to the voices of teachers, who are at the heart of efforts to attain the global education target of leaving no one behind”.
The World Teachers Day is marked annually since 1994 to commemorate the anniversary of the adoption of the 1966 ILO/UNESCO recommendation concerning the Status of Teachers, which sets benchmarks regarding the rights and responsibilities of teachers and standards for their initial preparation and further education, recruitment, employment and teaching and learning conditions. Later in 1997, the recommendation concerning the Status of Higher-Education Teaching Personnel was adopted to complement the 1996 Recommendation by incorporating teaching and research personnel in higher education.
With the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goal 4 on education, and the dedicated target (SDG 4.c) recognizing teachers as key to the achievement of the Education 2030 agenda, the World Teachers Day has become the occasion to mark progress and reflect on ways to counter the remaining challenges for the promotion of the teaching profession.
The World Teachers Day is celebrated this year amidst a global crisis – the crisis of the COVID-19. But this crisis is by far not the only crisis that South Sudan is going through.
“Teachers here in South Sudan face multiple if not complex crises”, said Dr. Mohamed Ag Ayoya, the UNICEF Representative in South Sudan. “Teachers face the consequences of the conflict that started in 2013. Now comes the floods in some parts of the country – displacing people, including teachers and their families. We worry that these floods will exacerbate an already bad food security situation, which will affect teachers and their families, and will impact on their ability to teach.”
All the crises that have hit South Sudan, ranging from displacement conflicts, over droughts and floods generating food insecurity and large-scale displacement to the COVID-19 offer some lessons for the country with regard to the role of teachers and the challenges they face.
Mr. Julius Banda, UNESCO Representative to South Sudan: “While the country goes through all these crises, we need to ensure that the right to education of every child is fulfilled. Adults too need to continuously learn in order to cope with changes in their environment. We need to provide equitable and quality education for all circumstances, also in times of crises. This implies a flexible curriculum, but more importantly we need teachers who are flexible in providing quality education, and resources to have them paid and motivated to continue to work as teachers. Amidst all the crises that have affected teachers in South Sudan, teachers have shown and continue to show a high level of resilience and continue to deliver on their tasks. Today on this World Teachers Day we need to salute all the teachers of South Sudan for their dedication in ensuring continued access to education for all, specifically for the children.”