South Sudan: Passion for teaching despite the odds
16 April 2013

Students listen keenly to a teacher during a class in Nimule, South Sudan. (Sergi Camara/JRS)
I love teaching, but most people dislike it in South Sudan because of the low pay. In spite of my low salary, I have committed myself to teach.
Yambio, South Sudan 16 April 2013 - My name is Elizabeth, a teacher at St Mary's Primary School in Western Equatoria -Yambio County. I have taught children in several schools in Western and Central Equatoria. My experience has shown that, there are very few female teachers. This seems to be a common problem of schools in Equatoria states.

I love teaching, but most people dislike it in South Sudan because of the low pay. In spite of my low salary, I have committed myself to teach. The fact is, I am a mother and therefore the first teacher to my own children, which encourages me to help others. As a woman I want to be a model for the girls in school. I love to support them to work hard to complete their studies.

In school we are few teachers. This situation forces me to teach three lessons of different subjects in the same class. The frequency to the same class makes children bored. Many children I have encountered have got varied learning styles. Some children take more time to learn than others. As a teacher I ensure all have learnt something from me. This is the dream of teachers even though we do not have a solid training background. Teaching is a noble profession, and it is my desire to develop my professional teaching skills.

Determination despite the many odds. I have taught for many years, but being a mother and a teacher is not easy. The distance from my house to the school is five miles. Walking everyday to and back from school is very tedious because the little pay I receive cannot support my daily bus fare. I am determined to continue supporting children to learn, because in future they will be the light of the nation.

Most girls end up on the streets due to early pregnancies at primary level. This makes them to drop from school or at times fear going back to school after they deliver. This makes it difficult to get more women engaged in the teaching profession.

As a teacher and a parent it is my obligation to help our children especially girls to access education services and support them to complete school. It's a fact that when you educate a girl you educate a whole nation. The girls we educate are our future mothers.

I have a responsibility to lead children with a vision. It's unfortunate this does not happen too often. At times children are sent home due to none payment of school fee. Many parents are not able to pay school fees for their children more so girls, making it difficult for them to complete school.

It pains me when I reflect about this situation. I suffer in silence, and when it's time to leave home, I hardly waste a minute. I look forward for a day when more women teachers will find their way to the teaching profession.

By Elizabeth Dowula, St. Mary's Primary School Yambio, South Sudan.

JRS has been present in southern Sudan since 1997, working with people internally displaced due to the civil war. As peace dawned in southern Sudan and northern Uganda, JRS expanded its work and adapted its projects to respond to the needs of the refugees as they returned home, accompanying and serving them as they started to rebuild their lives. JRS started operating in Yambio from January 2013.