Master Christine Ijino Oyenak
Decentralisation and Multiculturalism in the Sudan/ South Sudan. An Analysis of the Policy and Practice of Multicultural Education in Selected Public Primary Schools in South Sudan.
This dissertation presents findings on decentralisation in South Sudan and implications for multicultural education. Three States, three Counties, six Payams and six schools have been selected as the basis for the study. Interviews, document analysis, observations and questionnaires were used to collect data. Research participants included: Politicians or Policy-Decision-Makers (PDMs) at all levels of government, Education officials at all levels, Development Partners (DPs), school administrators (head teachers), teachers and learners.
The overall objective of the study was to analyse South Sudan’s post-conflict public primary education system to determine whether and how education policy, school curriculum/textbooks (or the SSTB-G-Five) and practices in selected institutions envisioned/represent the diversity pronouncements of a number of policy documents in the context of the decentralised democratic governance system in the multicultural society of South Sudan. The particular interest was to understand whether and how the question of ethnic and cultural diversity is envisioned in GoSS policy and practice through the education system in view of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) commitment to achieving the Education for All (EFA) goals and Millennium Development Goals (MDGs); what are the achievement and challenges encountered along the process. Another key interest is how teachers are prepared/equipped to deal with this ethnic and cultural diversity in the classroom and schools. The main interest was to examine whether and how decentralisation policy has supported the implementation of multicultural education to support unity and cultural diversity for sustainable peace and peaceful coexistence among ethnically and culturally diverse groups in South Sudan.
This study found that various official documents, such as the Interim Constitution of Southern Sudan (ICSS) and the GoSS-MoEST vision and mission underline the importance of decentralisation and multiculturalism (multicultural policies) in promoting unity, harmony and peaceful coexistence through its education system in the diverse society of South Sudan. Democracy and decentralisation are recognised and should be organised at different levels of government. Moreover, these documents advocate for the provision of relevant educational contents in line with South Sudan’s ethnic and cultural diversity, a unified curriculum, as well as for equitable and quality EFA. They also advocate that all people in South Sudan should participate in setting norms and standards of governance to address the ethnic and cultural diversity to support sustainable development in South Sudan.
However, the findings from interviews and observations indicate that these largely remain on paper. The selected textbook does not treat diverse groups of multicultural South Sudan with cultural sensitivity since it focuses on only a few ethnic language groups. The participation of many stakeholders in reforming and developing the school curriculum and in general policy and school reforms has been overlooked. The findings also show that teachers call for more education to acquire skills to teach children from ethnic and culturally diverse backgrounds.