By Deng Machol
Being a teacher in South Sudan is not what anyone would envy-the environment is tough and pay at the minimal.
The government seeks for the least allocation to the education department and teachers earn as little as 1200 South Sudanese Pounds ($3) for a month’s work.
“Who can survive on that?” Taban John, a teacher in Juba asked in an interview with Juba Echo.
The pay, John added, is often delayed over months before teachers get them.
Many have fled the profession looking for greener pasture.
A slim lifeline has been provided for at least 33,000 of them with incentives covering a period of three months in order to keep them in the classroom across the country.
Each teacher will be paid 21,400 South Sudanese Pounds ($50) provided through an OUTREACH program implemented by the United Nations Children’s Fund through the Ministry of General Education and Instructions with funding from the European Union.
Across South Sudan, the lack of salaries is competing with insecurity as the leading cause of school closure and absence of teachers.
Jacob Garang left the profession in 2016 and preferred to return for further education.
According to him, “teaching is simply disregarded and many teachers left the job to look for a better life.”
“Many teachers have resigned,” Garang told Juba Echo.
“Those who continue to show up to teach do it for the hope of a better country in the future.”
Of the incentives, the Ministry of General Education and Instructions said beneficiaries were identified through the teachers’ and students’ attendance records.
“I am extremely grateful to the European Union for extending this support to all of our primary school teachers,”Awut Deng Acuil, the Minister for General Education and Instruction said in a statement on Tuesday.
It will cover May to July and the payment seeks to complement the salaries that the government pays to the teachers.
“This incentive payment will attract the teachers back to classrooms to facilitate quality learning for our students,” Jesper Moller, UNICEF Deputy Representative of Programmes said.
“We must keep teachers in schools effectively teaching and students learning both inside and outside of the classrooms.”
The incentive will be implemented in two phases.
In the first phase, approximately 33,000 teachers will be paid a one-time cash incentive to support their return to school and regular teaching activities from May to July 2021.
Then in November, approximately 7,450 – both qualified and volunteer-teachers in hard-to-reach areas, will be paid monthly cash incentives to support regular teaching activities in the locations.
It won’t be much though and multiple teachers said they continue to teach in order to inspire people to be the leaders of tomorrow.
“This situation gets worse and worse,” John Atem, a volunteer teacher in Juba told Juba Echo.
“But if teacher’s salaries were good, there would be more supply for demand, more opportunities and schools,” he said. “Teaching is just laughable.”