One of the focus of the Global Campaign for Education (GPE) is strengthening of national civil society engagement in inclusive and gender responsive education policy development, implementation, and monitoring. In order to achieve this, CSOs need to holistically understand the overall education sector of their particular country, as well as gain an understanding of the landscape within which they operate. In addition, for this to be achieved, CSOs also need to reflect on their mission, vision as well as on their experiences as part of learning in the policy dialogue and advocacy process.
On the 20th June, the National Education Coalition (NEC) conducted a one-day reflection workshop with member organization, who are mainly local civil society organizations working in the education sector. This reflection meeting aimed at gaining an insight into the experiences and perspectives of civil society engagement in education. The workshop provided space for NEC CSOs to reflect on their experiences, perspectives and develop a solid shared goal for effective contribution to the implementation of education policies in South Sudan, and particularly help stakeholders to engage in policy implementation.
Strengthening advocacy and engagement
- As an advocacy strategy CSOs should build partnerships with different stakeholders and collaborate with local leadership to mobilize communities for social change. Developing partnerships among stakeholders is crucial for successful advocacy strategy planning. It is important to identify a consistent point person for advocacy and stakeholder mapping, as well as engage the community in organizing meetings and raising awareness. This is aimed at enhancing the linkages among CSOs, education management bodies and education authorities, especially at the state and county levels. This will improve cooperation and accountability in service delivery. From the success stories involving behavioral change, adaptation of by-laws to reduce forced marriage as a deeply rooted cultural practice, we learnt the significance of involving a range of stakeholders and local leadership’s involvement of advocacy activities.
- The advocacy initiative should include stakeholders or partners/influencers as consistent points of entry into the communities. These would help organize, schedule meetings, share insights and send updates. However, developing clear messaging is key in these meetings when advocating for policy change.
- NEC established NEC members’ forums to raise awareness, educate, and advocate in the community. Development of clear messaging is a very important lesson learned while advocating for policy changes in the community
- As a strategy to Strengthen their advocacy activities, NEC CSOs need to provide information backed up by reliable data and data sources. This means NEC CSOs should be able to conduct research and gather accurate information pertaining to the advocacy topic in their areas of intervention.
- NEC CSOs need to understand all the national laws such as the Education Act 2012 and education policies, disseminate them to communities and stakeholders and follow up on the implementation of these policies.
- Advocate for improved teacher recruitment and management to enhance improvements in school retention and the quality of education.
- Strengthening the teacher union in South Sudan, and building the capacity of the union.
- Advocate for an increase in the education budget to be raised to 20% of the national budget to enhance efficiency in education service delivery.
- Advocate for improved inclusive education by raising awareness and training of teachers
- Strengthen NEC CSOs’ capacity by scaling up training, raising awareness, and strengthening coordination among NEC CSOs.
- Strengthen the capacity of PTAs and school management committees to be able to deal with the challenges facing inclusive education and gender equity at the grassroots levels.
The active engagement of the civil society in education could proof beneficial for effective policy implementation as well as enhancing social accountability (Sørensen, 2020). Given their strategic location and involvement with the local communities, they could easily facilitate social change, and raise important policy issues.