Constructing a national narrative in civil war: history teaching and national unity in South Sudan

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This article analyses history teaching in South Sudanese secondary schools and focuses on the interplay of local context, curricular intentions, and teachers’ agency. Drawing on ethnographic data, the article focuses on how the main objectives of national unity and critical thinking are enacted by teachers in the classroom. Through theories of history teaching and learning in divided societies, I explore how teachers teach the recent violent past and how they navigate and mediate ‘invisible’ tensions among opposing truths in the classroom. Foregrounding the context of civil war, the article illustrates how narratives of current and previous civil wars in the country limit teachers’ ability to fulfil the goals of the syllabus. Despite the role of teachers as key mediators for a peaceful classroom, the context of war limits the ideological space for them to promote a culture of peace among students in the classroom.

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Merethe Skårås

PhD Student in the Department of International Studies and Interpreting at Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences, Norway

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