Scoping Mission for an English Language Training (ELT) Programme in South Sudan. Final Report

Power, Tom and Simpson, John (2011). Scoping Mission for an English Language Training (ELT) Programme in South Sudan. Final Report. Department for International Development, Cambridge, UK.


The objective of this scoping mission is to assess and prioritise the most important English language training needs in South Sudan, in the period following independence, in relation to four thematic areas:
• conducting central and state level official business;
• creating a new national identity;
• integrating with global and regional trade and commerce;
• introducing pedagogic change in the education sector.
A team of two specialists gathered data from 19-22 July 2011. This consisted of meetings with representatives of Ministries, SPLA, SSPS, NGOs, DFID, USAID, BC, HEIs, TTIs, and public and private sector organisations.

Whilst there are a number of current activities intended to improve competence in English language, these are typically small scale, working face-to-face with small groups (of around 20-60 people) over short time frames (typically 3-6 months). WTI are perhaps the largest provider of such training, currently reaching some 3,000 teachers, but much of the training offered appears to be in the form of ‘grammar translation’, which is not the most effective approach for improving the ability to communicate in the target language. In relation to the scale of need, current approaches seem piecemeal. There is a need for coherent and strategic activity in relation to English language teaching within South Sudan. Effective approaches need to be deployed at an appropriate scale, proportionate to need. Interventions should acknowledge the broader issues around basic literacy, numeracy and communication skills, as well as English language needs.

In particular, the opportunities for using appropriate, low-cost communications technologies (e.g. radio and mobile phone) should be thoroughly explored in relation to all interventions. The role of such technologies is likely to be critical in widening exposure to spoken English language, particularly in contexts where levels of literacy are generally very low. (The opportunity to supplement such resources through print, for example, through ELT pages in newspapers, should be explored, perhaps particularly for more literate audiences, such as Arabic speaking teachers, or ELT facilitators in the workplace.) In addition, for the general population, the opportunity for community based, peer-supported initiatives should be explored.

“Can English really make a difference”? The short answer is “yes”: English language training is not a ‘quick fix’ for South Sudan’s problems, but it can stimulate development, is relatively inexpensive and sustainable, and may underpin a range of skills transformation projects.

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