29th October 2020
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Some parents, teachers oppose reopening of schools this year

Author: Okot Emmanuel | Published: Thursday, September 24, 2020

School Girls Marching During the Launch of the 2nd Phase of the Girl's Education South Sudan Program in Juba - August 21, 2019 - File Photo. Credit: Majak Malak/GESS.

The government has created a “confusion” with the announcement to reopen schools without issuing guidelines amid the coronavirus pandemic, experts and some parents have said.

The stakeholders wants the government to properly plan and preposition safety equipment before rushing to reopen.

They said the Ministry of Education and partners should use the remaining period of the year to prepare school administrations to handle any eventualities when students return to class.

Early this month, the Council of Minister announced the reopening of schools after nearly 7 months of closure due to the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Nearly 2 million South Sudanese children who have enrolled in primary and secondary schools are expected to resume classes in the coming months.

But an official working for the Girls Education South Sudan [GESS] program suggested that the reopening being deferred to next year to allow for proper planning.

“If you look at the time frame that is left for this particular academic year to come close, you are barely left with two months,” said Samuel Buol, GESS Teacher’s Professional Development Advisor. “Now I was asking myself -am I going to call this second term or third term?”

He worries that schools across the country have not put in place coronavirus preventive measures, suggesting they reopen in February 2021.

Joseph Ohure who is a teacher in Juba agrees noting that “we are already coming towards the end of the academic year -be it at the basic level, secondary level or university level. And we know since the opening of schools early this year, nothing has been taught.”

He added that most of his colleagues have left the teaching profession to sustain their families after the closure of schools.

“As you know teachers are not paid on time…and the teachers spend almost 8 to 9 months without salary,” Mr. Ohure said.

He said enough time is needed to recruit more teachers before schools reopen.

“Even if the schools are open, I tell you no teacher is going to turn up unless the government commits itself to pay all the monies that have never been paid,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, Emmanuel Panador, a parent of some school children from Mauna residential area in Juba demands some clarifications from the government before the reopening of schools.

“We as parents are in a dilemma because…since the first term our children were not taught. If our children go back to school now, what will they write and what kind of exams will they write and how will they pass?” asked Panador.

“As parents, we are very confused with the decision of the government.”

Two weeks ago, health experts in the country also advised the Ministry of Education to first put in place coronavirus preventative measures before reopening schools.

They stressed that schools and universities should be equipped with coronavirus preventive tools to safeguard learners.

The medical experts also insist that proper hygiene and sanitation should be a top priority for all learning institutions intending to resume classes.

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