The Education We Need In South Sudan

"Reading and buying the books they like and gravitating towards the writing system they prefer. This is how standard written Thwɔjäŋ is going to emerge in the future."

By Mwan Muortat
South Sudan and all its people live in our hearts. It goes without saying that the best way to bring progress to our poor and largely rural population, is through education. But what kind of education?
These people already have education systems which are old and tested. Just because Jieng, Naath or Zande kids in the village don't sit in a classroom does not mean that they are not going through an education programme. We must respect and seek to preserve these systems.
Any modern education system aimed at them, should be supplementary and not a replacement of their knowledge. The system that we have had so far, has failed us and has caused much damage.
It has produced people that are disconnected from the bulk of the population. This so-called educated sector of our society tends to be corrupt, non-productive, government-job-chasing and self-serving. They are not answerable to the majority rural population, whom they describe as illiterate and backward!
True they are illiterate, but they are definitely not backward. They are the only ones who produce anything worth mentioning. They grow their own food and build their own houses. They are economically independent! At least they used to be so before the wars between the "educated" brought mayhem to their lands.
Our rural people are by far more refined and culturally richer human beings than the egotistical ignorant types who rule over them simply because they can read and write some foreign language.
We can only end this scourge by bringing literacy in native languages to all our people (young and old). To enable them to read and write the languages they are already experts in. Once they have become literate, you can channel education to them through materials written in their vernacular. This education must be bidirectional. We have as much to learn from them as they have from us.
Since our aloof government will continue to neglect the issue of native languages for the foreseeable future, the matter now is, and will remain for a long time, in the hands of civil society.
I am determined to dedicate my energies to the teaching and spreading literacy in Thwɔŋjäŋ together with countless others who are working towards the same aim in their own ways. With other dedicated like-minded people, we will do this by sticking to a few principles.
First, to use a 'neutral dialect' (progressively), that borrows from all the Jieng dialects.
Second, to write in a uniform way easier to read way, which eventually will find a way of introducing tones in a workable manner. All our writing will involve ending words in voiced consonants and avoiding using "i" & "u" as glides. For example, "Muɔrtät" is written more correctly as "Mwɔrtäd". This is what we call the "Reformed Roman Orthography of 2016".
Fourthly, all our writings will be in two texts: in the reformed Roman orthography and in the Nilerian script. Nilerian is a native script invented by Aleu Majok. It is totally consistent with the reformed orthography and introduces many revolutionary ideas including, a more natural way of writing breathiness and tonality, among others.
There is no democracy (by way of a ballot) in language. There is no organisation that governs the English language, for example. You can write in any way you want. But will anyone follow you? That is the key.
As such, there is no (and there will never be a) governing body for Thwɔŋjäŋ. The great Thwɔŋjäŋ readers will vote with their feet. Reading and buying the books they like and gravitating towards the writing system they prefer. This is how standard written Thwɔjäŋ is going to emerge in the future. This is not an easy task but is one worth struggling for.
We aim to win over our readers and learners by producing a larger number of publications that will be available in both electronic and print formats. We will do it through reading & writing that is more consistent (predictable) and more seamless.
We will support all this with technology.
Spending too much time on circular discussion is unproductive and harmful. Live and let live! Let's each concentrate on what we are doing.
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Below are a sample of stuff we have produced. Some of you have seen them before.These are more experimental at this stage, but we will be issuing more structured material as we progress. I aim in the near future, to build a website to be a central resource for learning and accessing Thwɔjäŋ related material.
Twɔŋjäŋ Roman Alphabet for beginners
(Voice to be added in the next version)
....Click the LINK below...…/dinka%20alphabet.mp4…
If you can read Thwɔŋjäŋ, see how seamless it can be to read in the improved orthography, by reading this sample text from John's Gospel. Next to it, is the same text in the Nilerian script. If you are trying to teach yourself Nilerian, or just want to try it out, this is your chance to get your teeth into something meaty.
[West-Central/Rek dialect; Reformed orthography & Nilerian Script]
....Click the LINK below...…/bible%20-%20John%20-%201%20%281%2…
Sing along with this amazing hymn
[South-Eastern/Bor dialect; Reformed orthography & Nilerian Script]
....Click the LINK below...
Listen to & sing along with Abuŋ Anëy, a shining icon of traditional music.
[West-Central/Rek dialect; standard othorgraphy]
....Click the LINK below... 

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