Southern Sudan: Campaign to highlight importance of education
26 March 2010

Most children in Southern Sudan have to learn in overcrowded and very basic school structures like this one in Palwar, near Lobone. (Christian Fuchs/JRS)
“It means that our efforts in the area of education have paid off. Just from the developments of the last two months, we can already see a positive impact.”

Lobone, 26 March 2010 — Between January 18 and February 2, 2010 the JRS team in Lobone, Southern Sudan carried out a campaign in order to create awareness about the importance of education.

For twelve days, JRS staff members held meetings with seven communities in Lobone, Parjok and Magwi Sub-counties, aiming to increase school enrollment, boost girls’ education and intensify the collaboration with the local education officials and community leaders. The campaign also sought to prepare the local communities for assuming their responsibilities once JRS withdraws from Southern Sudan.    

“Through the campaign, we managed to reach over 520 community members, which is a big success” says Lam Leone Ferem, JRS Project Director in Lobone. “It means that our efforts in the area of education have paid off. Just from the developments of the last two months, we can already see a positive impact,” he adds.

Right after the meetings, parents, with the help of other community members, started collecting local building materials, such as poles and grass, and built five primary schools in Lobone Sub-county. “They understood that the schools belong to them, not to JRS and that it is in their hands to change the situation,” says Henry Langoya Zacharia, JRS Primary Education Coordinator and one of the facilitators.

Thanks to the parents' initiative, pupils in the five communities will now enjoy a more conducive learning environment whereas before, schools were overcrowded due to the huge number of Southern Sudanese returning home after years of exile. The new schools also improve the situation of those pupils who had to cover long distances to go to school and can now reach them easier.

The direct involvement of the communities in taking care of their schools became most concrete in the formation of governing bodies, such as the school management committee and parents-teachers associations. Both play important roles in developing, managing and maintaining schools.

During the meetings, community members repeatedly thanked JRS for the activities accomplished since the organisation first started working in Lobone in 2001. Especially those who have just returned from exile appealed for more support. Community members also expressed their dissatisfaction about the fact that the majority of the teachers are not on the government payroll yet. “This has to do with the fact that the young government does not yet have the capacity to pay all the teachers,” explains Mr Zacharia.

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