Teachers Trained on Distance Teaching through Radio in South Sudan

When COVID-19 stuck, like most of the world, South Sudan shut its school gates. In addition to the existing 2.2 million children who are already out-of-school, the education of some 2 million enrolled primary and secondary school children was suddenly disrupted.

To ensure learners could continue their education, the Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI), with support from UNESCO, through the Capacity Development for Education (CapED) Programme, launched ‘Education on Air’ a radio education programme in May 2020. Education on Air is broadcasting daily lessons to primary and secondary level learners, focusing particularly on English, Science and Mathematics. During the lessons, one teacher delivers the class, while another takes questions from students, answering live or during the next lesson.

As teachers in South Sudan are not experienced in live broadcasting it is crucial to strengthen their capacities so they can deliver quality education over the radio. To this end, through CapED, UNESCO organized teacher training on distance learning through radio from 6-9 October 2020.

Aiming to sharpen educators’ knowledge on developing lesson scripts for distance teaching, the training has strengthened teachers’ skills in producing more interactive, gender-responsive, socially-inclusive, learner friendly lessons and has improved their time management abilities. The training benefited 35 teachers, of which eight were female, covering Early Childhood Development to Secondary level courses.

The tools received in this training such as 12 tips for script review is very much useful for us as a trainer to conduct script writing training in the future,” said Jackson Okello, a national trainer on script writing for distance teaching.

Rejina Massimo, a biology and chemistry teacher who is taking part in Education on Air, talked about what she learned on gender responsiveness. She explained that, “I need to be gender sensitive. That means the material I’m using should be inclusive, bringing together girls and boys. I should not only give the male example. If I use Mary in one example, I should use John in the next. I should use language that combines boys and girls”.

Another participant who is part of Education on Air, Fred Waseka Mawanda, said: ‘’we are very much happy with this training as it has provided us with the necessary skills for conducting live radio lessons in an effective way. I will certainly employ the tips discussed in the training, especially how to make the radio lessons gender responsive and encourage girls to join radio education.’’

Julius Banda, UNESCO Country Representative in South Sudan noted that the Education on Air programme had achieved good results during the COVID-19 lockdown thanks to the special efforts of the teachers. “This training will build on that success and offer you tools for greater impact when you return to the studio for new lessons”, he stressed.

Odur Nelson, Director General of Alternative Education Systems of the MoGEI highlighted the importance of the training and thanked UNESCO for its continuous support and partnership in developing the Ministry’s capacities. Education on Air, which is broadcast on South Sudan Broadcast and Radio Miraya, is implemented by MoGEI in partnership with UNICEF, UNESCO, Save the Children and the United Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

Mading Manyok, Secretary of the National Examination Board and a member of the Education in Emergencies National Task Force on COVID-19 stated that this training needs to be cascaded at the state level.

This activity is part of CapED’s response to COVID-19 in South Sudan, which has also supported the Government develop a TVET sector COVID-19 response plan and reopening guidelines for TVET institutions.