South Sudan has been in the African’s longest civil war for more than two decades. This war paralyzed education system and infrastructures in the Southern part of the then united Sudan. Majority of the children of South Sudan did not get access to basic education due to the consequences of war. Therefore they passed the school-going; age making difficult to learn basic knowledge they were supposed to acquire earlier. The child that was born in 1984, at the onset of the liberation struggle was 21 year old when the Comprehensive Peace Agreement deal was finally reached between the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (the current ruling party in South Sudan) and the National Congress Party in 2005.
To address the education gap created by the civil war, the then Secretariat of Education, led by former Minister of Finance, Hon. Kosti Manibe as its Commissioner and Hon. William Ater Machiek, as its Undersecretary together with the key staff and the developing partners strategized possible ways to assist such victims of war on how they could finish their basic primary education in a shorter time given their age. The objective of this programme strategy was to increase access and quality of non-formal education, teaching and learning materials, and provides life skills to youth affected by emergencies in the SPLA liberated areas. The main idea was to close the wider gap of illiteracy among the communities of South Sudan. In their strategy meetings, the then Secretariat of Education and its development partners decided to create Alternative Education System strategy to address such need. The strategy was adopted after a team from the Secretariat took a study tour to Bangladesh, a country that had adopted the same strategy in the past. The secretariat adopted the strategy and developed its syllabi.
The writer of this article was among the Curriculum Developers that worked on the syllabus of the Alternative Education System and the syllabi of primary education system.
The Alternative Education Systems as non-formal education strategy had the programme components that include a) Accelerated Learning Programme, b) Adult Education Program, c) Community Girls’ School, d) Intensive English Learning Programme and e) Pastoralist Education Programme.
Accelerated Learning Programme, commonly referred to as ALP, was initiated to provide education service to the youth that had missed the school-going age, and to finish their primary education in the shortest time possible and decide to either branch to the vocational education or continue to Secondary education system. The syllabi were developed in manner that, two classes of primary education are completed within the academic year. Because the education system of South Sudan is 8-4-4 (that means 8 years of primary, 4 years of secondary and 4 years of university education), these youth were able to complete the primary education in just four years of learning. This programme strategy had worked across South Sudan, and many youth were able to go to school and completed their primary education. This has been a success with the support from our education development partners.
Another programme component was the Pastoralists Education programme; which took
education to the South Sudanese pastoralists’ communities. Given the nature of life of such communities, the education Ministry trained teachers that would follow the pastoralists’ communities wherever they migrate with their livestock and put up classrooms to teach children from these communities. Fighting illiteracy war has been our major forefront in the ministry of education, Science and Technology – Government of South Sudan. This programme component of the Alternative Education System is currently succeeding.
Community Girls’ School programme – this has been outcry by the people of South Sudan and the world in educating girl child. Over 90 percent of South Sudanese girls were out of the schools because some communities consider girls as sources of wealth, and believed
that sending them to school will spoil them. It has been a campaign by the Ministry and its partners in sending girls to school. This programme was created to construct village schools particularly for girls. On another note, the ministry created Promotion and Advocacy for Girls’ Education (PAGE), an advocacy group that advocate for girl child education across the country. The group was supported by the ministry and the partners. This was another successful programme component.
Intensive English Learning Programme – the syllabi for this programme were developed, and the purpose of this was to teach Arabic background teachers in English to enable them instruct students in their various schools, because medium of instruction in South Sudanese schools is English. Number of teachers enrolled, and the programme continued to succeed.
Adult Education programme – was another component of the Alternative Education System that provide non-formal education to the men and women of South Sudan that are willing to learn how to read and write. As a response to the world’s policy of Education for All (EFA), the Government of South Sudan’s Ministry of Education started massive campaign in providing non-formal education to the men and women of South Sudan in the fight against high rate of illiteracy. It has been a successful programming too.
In conclusion, the Alternative Education System Strategy of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology had been a success in providing education to youth, girl child, men and women of the new nation. I personally agreed that this strategy was an excellent idea ever in addressing the education in emergencies, and especially in countries that transitioned from the war and conflict situations where the education system and infrastructures have been paralysed. This is a strategy that can be adopted by any country in the world that emerged out of war and conflict.