Building a strong physics network in South Sudan
21 August 2013
Thanks to the support of the IOP, the Salisbury Diocese, Rapid Electronics and Clifton College I returned to South Sudan with five suitcases of Physics equipment for three weeks teacher training.
Mick Rolley, an IOP Teaching and Learning Coach, helped with the first week’s training at Juba Diocesan Model Secondary (JDMSS), where our resource centre is based and where a science technician, Noel, who I trained last year, had made 30 sets of electricity and optics kits ready for our courses. In the second week at Aweil, near the Dafur border and in the third week at Kajo-Keji, 12km from the Uganda border I was supported by outstanding teachers from our previous training courses. Mike Hackston of the King’s School, Basingstoke accompanied me during these weeks to lead parallel Biology/ Chemistry courses.
42 Physics teachers from 7/10 States were trained in practical teaching skills during these three weeks. Others were unable to attend due to impassable roads following heavy rainy season storms. The rains did not dampen the teachers’ enthusiasm, who saw both the rain and their training as a blessing for the future of their young nation.
Evaluation comments included: ‘The week changed me. I have been refreshed. You have given us hope.’ ‘So far we have only taught Physics theory, but now I can teach practically.’ ‘I have learnt the difference how teaching practically impacts students.’ ‘Practicals are not a waste of time as students become more attentive.’ ‘I enjoyed sharing, working as a team and using practicals and models to simplify ideas.’ ‘The workshop has prompted us to come together from time to time to improve our Physics teaching.’
Indeed one of our hopes was that Physics (and Chemistry/Biology) teachers, would have a desire to set up local ‘science teacher network resource centres’ and begin supporting one another so overall teaching standards improve.
The quality of some Ugandan trained teachers in Kajo-Keji encouraged us. They could spearhead advances across the land. The Ministry of Education in Northern Bahr El Ghazal State supported the training in Aweil, a 90 minute flight from Juba, which took place at their Teacher Training Institute. Teachers also came from Wau and Kuacjok, in neighbouring states to this training.
The Minister, Hon. Kon Deng, has invited us back in 2014. Thanks to their goodwill and the help an outstanding man, Archangelo Diing, we hope to return for a week next summer to this needy yet fertile region. One state, not supported in the past, is Upper Nile, and its capital Malakal has 16 secondary schools. Maybe opportunities will arise to also do training there in 2014.
Gerry Blake (IOP for Africa, South Sudan Coordinator)