Southern Sudan: JRS hands over new primary school in Lerwa
19 March 2010

The new school building in Lerwa, Southern Sudan. (Christian Fuchs/JRS)
“Before the signing of the peace agreement there was no school in Lerwa and children from our community had to cover 15km to reach a school.”

Lobone, 19 March — 2010 JRS handed over a newly constructed primary school to the community of Lerwa, Magwi County, Southern Sudan in March. Almost 700 people attended the ceremony.

“JRS has brought light to Lerwa,” said 16-year-old Aloyo Margareth, the head girl of the school, who spoke first at the ceremony. On behalf of the school and the local community, the deputy head teacher, the chairman of the parents-teachers-association and the chief of the sub county also expressed their gratitude and appreciation. “Before the signing of the peace agreement there was no school in Lerwa and children from our community had to cover 15km to reach a school,” said Deputy Head Teacher, Oyet Martine. As a sign of their gratitude, the leaders donated a big white goat to JRS. 

The new Lerwa primary school comprises a five classroom block furnished with 90 triple seater desks, administration offices, two latrine blocks and a 10,000 litres rain water harvesting tank. Twelve office chairs, six office tables and a signpost will be delivered soon. The school was constructed with funds of the US State Department’s Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM).

“I urge all community members to send their children to school because education is the key to development,” said the Deputy Director of BAA Technical Service, the construction company, Augustine Okwera. He also encouraged community members to enrol for other courses offered by JRS, such as adult education and nursery school.

JRS Project Director, Lam Leone Ferem, thanked the community of Lerwa for their cooperation and commitment. “I was happy to see you taking initiative when you started to teach your children under trees right after returning from exile,” he said, urging the community to maintain that spirit. The first primary school in Lerwa was initiated in March 2008 after most of the community members had just returned from exile in Uganda. At first, dry cassavas served as chalk and metal doors as chalkboards.

The celebration was framed by various performances and activities. The school choir sang and other groups performed dramas as well as western and traditional dances. Among those present were school children, parents, local authorities, a representative of the Spanish donor organisation Entreculturas, the team of constructors and JRS staff.

After a needs assessment in 2008, JRS decided to support the efforts of the local community and construction for a new school began in October 2009. Besides the newly constructed school building there is only one more permanently built structure in Lerwa: A health centre consisting of three rooms which was built by the American Refugee Committee (ARC). Lerwa is around 30km from Lobone where JRS has its local office.

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