Democracy and Schools in Southern Sudan : A Study of the Role of Primary Schools in Promoting Democracy


Publication date



Høgskolen i Oslo. Avdeling for lærerutdanning og internasjonale studier

Document type


Master i flerkulturell og internasjonal utdanning


Most democratic societies expect their schools to play an important role in helping citizens to develop a set of attitudes, values, beliefs and knowledge that are conducive to the maintenance of democratic institutions. There is no important task for a nation other than developing an informed and responsible democratic citizenry through education. Therefore, it is imperative that educators, policymakers, and members of civil society should concern themselves with streamlining democratic issues in the educational programs in the primary schools for the advancement of democratic institutions and governance. Internal demands for democracy and the rule of law combined with the externally driven democratization and good governance projects has left some African states to experience a transition from one-party system of governance, military rule or civilian dictatorships to various forms of political pluralism systems of government. Yet schools, the very institutions expected to prepare students for democracy have not been given adequate attention for playing a central role in the mission of preparing young citizens for democracy. The purpose of this study is to determine how primary schools in South Sudan promote practices of democracy. In that regard, this study sought to answer the following research questions: 1) What are the education policies of the Government of South Sudan on the promotion of democracy in primary schools? 2) What are the pupils and teachers perception of democracy? 3) How do primary school organizational structures contribute to the practices of democracy? The empirical part of the thesis was based on a fieldwork study of three primary schools in South Sudan. A qualitative research approach was used and in all twenty participants consisting of pupils, teachers, head teachers and government officials were interviewed. Observation of activities in the schools was also done together with a study of documents as source of information. The following theoretical concepts informed the conduct and execution of this research study: democracy, citizen participation and socialization. The following major findings featured out in this study: There are policies for fostering democratic values and behaviours in primary schools of South Sudan. These policies include, inter alia, a South Sudan education policy for inculcating democratic values and practices in learners by encouraging participatory learning, development of critical thinking and problem-solving skills. The study has also revealed a South Sudan education policy for the involvement of local community through SMC (School Management Committee) and PTA (Parents and Teachers Associations) as the school governing bodies with managerial powers over financial management; disciplinary management; co-curricula activities management; teacher and learner welfare management. Other roles include overseeing mobilization of resources by the community. There is also a South Sudan government education policy that requires prefect systems to be formed in a democratic manner at every public primary school as pupils’ representative for establishing formal channels of communication between learners and the school administration. The findings further indicate that both pupils and teachers’ perception of democracy is that they view democracy as a way of governing society. In general, their understanding of democracy is that democracy is a method. It is has to do with participation in voting or election and institutions of the school such as the prefects, the school management committees and the parents and teachers association. Moreover, their concept of democracy includes knowledge on the government, democratic systems, legislative power, and the structure of parliament. In that regard and in my own point of view, their concept of democracy is that it is not a way of life or process but rather it is a way of governing.


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