|The Solidarity Teacher Training College closed in March 2020 and sent students home, obeying the government decree for all education institutions to close at the start for one month. One year later we lament with the rest of the country that so much time has been wasted.
The college attempted to go online. This was a worthwhile experiment that showed up the deficiencies of the country. The internet access is very limited and those outside of Juba really could not keep up with the pace. Is it proper to expect a person living in a POC to go out in the night just to access internet? The insecurity prevented that.
Despite major limitations due to poor internet access across the country, tutors used Google Classroom and the use of attachments in emails to cater for students. Not everyone was able to log in, but the tutors learned what it takes to teach online. Our overall conclusion would be that for the students we bring to face-to-face learning STTC is by far the most effective method. Students who have persevered with the program will receive a certificate of participation that recognizes their efforts.
We hope and pray the government can gradually increase the communication systems within South Sudan in order to benefit the whole population.
There are three schools within Western Equatoria which had some sort of success with the programs they ran in order to engage the pupils.
Four graduates who work at a small village school in the forest at Ndoromo persisted in providing paper work for their pupils. The four would photocopy their papers at STTC and then take the bundles of work to Ndoromo fortnightly. On arriving at the school they would be met by their eager pupils and together they would slash the grass, maintaining their hard won buildings. Teachers would collect the work of the previous fortnight and distribute the new work. There were problems due to many parents being illiterate and unable to assist their children but the experience for the children of having some kind of regular school work kept them on their toes. Parent and pupils greatly appreciated the efforts made by the teachers. Even people who lived along the road to Ndoromo got involved, asking the teachers to provide work for their children as well.
Teachers at St Dominic Savio School in Riimenze ran a similar system. Fortnightly the four graduates along with the other teachers, prepared work on paper and photocopied it at the college. For the staff here it was a joy to see these teachers going the extra mile to cater for their pupils in this time of uncertainty. The teachers took the lessons to Riimenze for distribution.
At the Refugee Camp in Makpandu there are fifteen STTC graduates employed by World Vision, all of whom are teaching in the school in the camp. Their lessons were prepared on site and delivered to the pupils in the camp.
We have heard of other graduates involving themselves voluntarily in teaching the P8 pupils who returned to school about six weeks ago in order to prepare for promotional exams in 2021. While we might not agree with the process we appreciate efforts made by graduates to teach wherever they can.
Three staff of the college ran a four days’ workshop for graduates on the new methodology for teaching in South Sudan. The government has developed new textbooks and new methodology without adequately preparing teachers. Our workshop was delivered to 19 graduates and they now are compelled to teach the same workshop themselves with the aid of Solidarity staff. One session has already taken place in Rumbek and was very successful: Learning on all sides.
We reopened the college in February 2021. The plan is to receive one group initially and then after six weeks accept the remainder of the students. Preventing the spread of the virus is paramount so we are in preparation mode readying for the return.
Solidarity Teacher Training College survived the war, survived a significant armed robbery, survived a strike. The Covid-19 Pandemic has greatly destabilized us, but we have never stopped fighting. It was a blow not to have students on campus for most of 2020, but it was a joy to see how our graduates care about their jobs and have never left their pupils alone.
Now we must continue to fight so that this dream can continue to be a reality.
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Descriptor: Rome Office
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