A teacher asks a question during the training in Bentiu.
“I have been teaching for three years. Many of my colleagues abandoned their profession and ran to organizations and companies with better pay. My main objective is to bring up my brothers and sisters from the lower level because they are the future of tomorrow.”
These words were uttered by Mary Nyakuei Tap, a primary school teacher in Bentiu. She one among the few female teachers who have been teaching voluntarily or for very little pay, if any.
This week, she joined over 80 other primary and secondary school teachers for a training workshop that aimed to enhance their ability to contribute to building durable peace in South Sudan, using their positions and influence in their communities.
“When conflict erupted, many teachers ran for their safety and many did not return even when the peace agreement was signed,” said Mary. “I have decided to go and help our children in schools. What we lack as teachers is training that enhances our capacity, and UNMISS has now given that to us.”
Mary said she had learnt a lot from the training.
“We will use this knowledge in our respective schools. Through this training we now know what is expected of us as teachers, and we will do all we can to support our peace partners,” she said.
Organised by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Civil Affairs Division, the training in Bentiu brought together teachers from Bentiu Town, Rubkona, Guit, and others from the UN protection of civilians site.
“This training has had a great impact on us,” said James Madit, a teacher from the UNMISS Bentiu civilians’ protection site. “We were taught how to solve problems in both our schools and the community at large. This is something we will take with us and put into action,” he promised.
Paul Adejo Ebikwo, the UNMISS Civil Affairs Division team leader in Bentiu acknowledged the role being played by teachers and urged them to continue with the profession, although challenges abound.
“I want you to know that the role you play is very important. If we have enough education, enough children going to school, enough people educated properly, we won’t have conflict,” he said. “The main aim of this training is to encourage you and to give you knowledge to help you help the community to move away from the culture of conflict and wars,” said Mr. Ebikwo.
John Dor Gone, the area education minister was present to encourage the teachers, too.
“Our main plan now is to improve our education standards and build the capacity of the local teachers. We are also, in collaboration with education partners, working to improve the pay standard for teachers.”