Southern Sudan: JRS hands over new primary school to local community
30 April 2010

The new school in Palwar, Southern Sudan. (Christian Fuchs/JRS)
“Since the learning environment has improved considerably, we urge all parents to send their children to school.”

Lobone, 30 April 2010 – On April 30, 2010 JRS handed over a newly constructed primary school to the community of Palwar in Lobone sub-county, Southern Sudan. Around 1,500 people were present at the handing over ceremony.

The new school will enable 521 children to learn in a more conducive environment. It comprises five classrooms equipped with 90 triple seater desks, offices furnished with 12 chairs and desks, two blocks of latrines and a 10,000 liters rain water harvesting tank.

On behalf of the school management and the local community, the head teacher, the chairman of the Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) and the village chief all expressed their gratitude about the new facility. “There was no permanently built school in Palwar before the peace agreement in 2005,” said Adyera Joseph, the PTA chairperson. As a sign of their appreciation, the community donated natural goods, such as a goat, a cock, eggs and sugar cane as well as 79 Sudanese Pounds (USD 35) to JRS.

“Since the learning environment has improved considerably, we urge all parents to send their children to school,” said Obalim Richard, a member of the construction team. He also encouraged community members to sign up for other JRS activities, such as adult literacy courses or nursery schools.

On behalf of JRS, Project Director Lam Leone Ferem thanked the Palwar community for their cooperation and commitment. The community had provided the land, cleared the building site and collected local building materials such as sand and stones. “I encourage you to maintain that spirit and hope that one day, you can expand your school to accommodate the immense number of students,” he said.

After one of the JRS community peace facilitators, Pastor Anthony Ben, had opened the ceremony with a prayer, the school was blessed by Fr Richard O’Dwyer SJ, JRS Pastoral Coordinator who also supervised the construction. Following the speeches, students performed songs and entertained the guests.

The Palwar community initiated their first school in dirt-floored structures built of tree branches in March 2008, after they had returned from exile in Uganda after a 21-year long civil war. “We used dry cassava [a local crop] as chalk and a metallic door as the chalkboard,” a community member said. Almost 13,400 people live in Palwar which is located 21 kilometers from Lobone where JRS has its office.

Funding for the new school bloc came from the US State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM). Construction had started in December 2009. The Palwar primary school is the third permanently built school in Lobone sub-county. The three schools have been constructed between October 2008 and March 2010.

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