Despite the efforts by the various stakeholders to familiarize South Sudanese with the Agreement on the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan (ARCSS) 2015, Majority of South Sudanese are still very unfamiliar with the agreement and what it entails. Now the High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) is yet another National Process intended to bring peace to the country but there is still limited understanding of the process among the population.
The first phase witnessing the signing of another Cessation of Hostilities Agreement (COHA) in December 2017, and the second phase still ongoing, many newer documents are expected to be signed at the end of the process. Of all these documents both old and new, there has been limited awareness creation initiatives and civilians continue to be disengaged from the process and are unable to hold the signatories accountable for their actions.
There is an entire segment of the population that has been completely left out and that is; the educators together with students. Teachers have a crucial role in educating the society hence their understanding the contents of the Agreement (s) will go a long way in enhancing efforts intended to disseminate the agreement and keep the communities updated and engaged in the ongoing Peace Processes.
CREW in partnership with Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission (JMEC) and Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA) organized a two-day workshop themed “Enhancing Teachers’ Understanding and Role in Dissemination, Implementation and Monitoring of the Peace Agreement Process”. The workshop was attended by over 100 Secondary and Primary School Teachers from Juba and its outskirts.
The objectives of the workshop were to;
- To create awareness on the content of the Peace Agreement 2015 and the CoHA 2017
- To enhance teachers’ understanding of the peace agreement, their role in peace building and the dissemination, implementation and monitoring process.
The JMEC advisors of respective Chapters took the participants through the contents of the Agreement on the Resolution of the conflict of South Sudan (ARCSS) chapter by chapter, the High Level Revitalization Forum (HLRF) and the Agreement on the Cessation of Hostilities (ACoH). On the High Level Revitalization Forum, Ambassador Kebede said “the Commission believes that a properly inclusive revitalization process provides the most effective platform upon which to confront and resolve the severe security, governance, economic and humanitarian crisis that continue to overwhelm South Sudan”.
“Teachers play such an important role in every community in every country in the world and that most specifically includes South Sudan. Your critical role in supporting peace-building and shaping the next generation cannot be understated, “we recognize your role as vital agents of change, and we seek to involve you in our public information campaign so that you can effectively add your voice to the debate.” He continues.
The last session of the workshop, teachers formed groups and discussed their challenges in involvement in the peace processes and recommendations/areas of opportunities. It was evidenced that there is a lot that needs to be done in regards to dissemination of the Peace agreement(s);
Limited freedom of expression, access to information including the peace agreement document, therefore, most teachers are ignorant about most current national issues, always excluded from representation and participation, never recognized or consulted as stakeholders and often neglected by the political decision makers, parties and parties to the conflict in peace negotiations, poor working conditions of teachers and many teachers found themselves in remote areas of the country hence are not easily accessible by anyone who is interested to engage the them, lack of adequate information on implementation of the peace agreement and inadequacy of general communication network in the country to facilitate communication initiatives e.g. Radio talk shows were some of the most outstanding challenges the teachers raised as limitations to their engagement in not only the peace agreement but most National Processes.
However, the teachers strongly acknowledged their role in the Nation and Peacebuilding Processes and recommended; creation of avenues that make it possible for teachers to add their voice, representation and participation in the peace negotiation, reporting progress of the implementation process and other national processes, enact laws necessary to strengthen and enhance educational policy and the role of teachers in nation and peace building processes, create conducive environment to facilitate peace education, reconciliation and healing in the country and encourage teachers to serve as ambassadors of peace, Crown the Woman to do more awareness raising among the teachers and the importance of working together across different communities, intensify dissemination of information on peace agreement in all our communities including schools and have it translated into local languages, teachers to make an effort and look for information regarding the peace process e.g. on JMEC Website, engagement of teachers in workshops and seminars to discuss contents and different provisions of the peace agreement but above all TGoNU should show commitment to implement the peace agreement(s) and improve Security.
Inclusion of the rightful stakeholders in the ongoing peace processes is very vital, teachers play an important role in nurturing and shaping the mindsets of pupils and students at a tender age. Their involvement is an investment in South Sudan’s quest for lasting peace for generations to come.