16 December 2010
|Students at Nile Progressive Secondary School near Nimule. Until 2009 this school was still used as ammunition storage. (Angelika Mendes/JRS)|
|After the peace agreement in 2005 the school buildings were reconstructed by JRS with funds provided by the Spanish government and schools reopened.|
Nimule, 16 December 2010 – The Spanish ambassador to Sudan and Eritrea has visited schools and activities sponsored by the Spanish government and implemented by JRS in Nimule, Southern Sudan.
During the three-day visit from November 25 – 27, 2010 the delegation visited four secondary schools. One of them, Nile secondary school was used as garrison, army barrack and ammunition storage during both Sudanese civil wars. After the peace agreement in 2005 the school buildings were reconstructed by JRS with funds provided by the Spanish government and schools reopened.
Maria Teresa Daurella de Nadal was accompanied by Emma Pacios, a representative of the Spanish Agency for International Development, AECID, and Alistair Davies, a representative of the Spanish Jesuit NGO Entreculturas, who oversees the funding agreement from Nairobi.
At all the schools Ms Daurella de Nadal met headmasters, teachers and pupils. “It is interesting to listen to their stories and to hear about the history of these schools,” she said.
Singing and dancing
At Iriya primary school, a group of 20 students sang and danced to welcome the visitors. “It was a beautiful image to see the children against the bright colours of the school at dusk,” said JRS Project Director in Nimule, Chandia Paska.
The delegation also visited an adult literacy centre and witnessed a lesson about the referendum process. The adult students gave a proof of their writing and reading abilities. The second day concluded with a visit to a peace club whose members expressed their joy and gratitude by singing and dancing under a mango tree.
There was plenty of time to meet JRS staff members, the project director, the Southern Sudan director and the representative of the JRS regional office in Nairobi.
“The visitors showed great interest in the current situation of Southern Sudan, especially in these difficult days towards the referendum on southern independence,” said Ms. Paska. “They liked what JRS did throughout the years and they encouraged us to make sure that our work will continue once JRS pulls out in 2012,” she added. “This could be done by either a development organisation or a local NGO formed by some of the local staff members.”
AECID started funding JRS activities in Southern Sudan in 2008 and will continue until 2012 when JRS will pull out of Southern Sudan.
Historical background of the schools:
Borongole Secondary School was built in 1944 by the British colonial administration as a transit centre for the King’s African Rifles (KAR) who were brought in from different colonies to fight during the second world war. They built several stone buildings with grass roofs which were used as a cotton market after the war.
In 1965, the Anyanya war [first Sudanese civil war] led to the destruction of the roof. In 1979 refugees from Uganda settled in the area. Norwegian Church Aid (NCA) built two classrooms and the site was re-opened as a primary school for refugee children. In 1982 the old buildings were renovated and re-opened as an intermediate school. In 1986 school activities had to stop because of the second Sudanese civil war (1982-2005). The Ugandan refugees were forced to return home and many Sudanese fled to Uganda.
The Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) then occupied the school in 1989. Between 1994 and 1997, during fighting between the SPLA and the central Sudan government forces, the buildings were destroyed again.
After the war, once the first Sudanese had returned home from exile in Uganda, the community decided to build a primary school. The school was completed in 2008. Since it was so successful the community felt encouraged to start a secondary school. They chose the site of the former intermediate school in Borongole and proposed the idea to JRS. The community then laid the bricks while JRS started to renovate two classroom blocks in 2009.
Once the two blocks were ready and adequately furnished, Borongole Secondary School re-opened at the beginning of 2010 with 56 students enrolled in three grades.
Nile Progressive Secondary School was built in 1958/59 and opened as an Islamic school with a nearby mosque in 1960. Five years later, the Anyanya fighters started using the school as a garrison during the first Sudanese civil war, until the signing of the Addis Ababa agreement in 1972.
The site was then turned into an intermediate school, one of the few government schools in the southern region and continued operating until the second civil war broke out in 1983. In 1986/87 students and teachers from the nearby Loa Secondary School had to flee their area but they continued their lessons at the premises of the intermediate school in Nimule.
In 1988 central Sudan government forces moved into the school and set up a garrison until they were overrun by the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) in 1994. The roofs were damaged during heavy fighting after 1994 and the SPLA used some of the building as ammunition storage until 2009. Following a private initiative, the school re-opened in 2005.
Fulla Secondary School was established in 1999 as one of the first secondary schools behind the former Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Army (SPLA) front line. Sudanese students some of whom were former child soldiers or orphans had performed so well at primary school that they qualified for secondary school. Since the parents - most of whom were volunteers soldiers - could not afford sending their children to Uganda for secondary education the community took initiative and set up a secondary school.
The first lessons were held under trees until temporary classrooms were constructed. Over the years, construction of permanent classrooms started through the efforts of the community and the NGOs operating in the area, like JRS. Currently the school has eight permanent classrooms, an administration block and a laboratory. Twenty-one teachers teach at the school.
Loa Secondary School was established in 1979, on the premises of a boy’s primary school set up by the Comboni missionaries in 1928. Before the second Sudanese civil war broke out in 1983, the school boasted of a classroom block of four rooms, six blocks for dormitories, a library, a kitchen, office furniture and equipment, water and power supplies, staff houses and many other school facilities. All these got destroyed during the war (1983 - 2005).
With the support of JRS, Catholic Relief Services and the Catholic Diocese of Torit, some of the buildings were renovated after the war. They include two former dormitories which were roofed and partitioned into classrooms, four grass thatched blocks which are used as staff houses and 10 stances of improved pit latrines.
The school resumed in 2005, after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), but was shortly closed down in 2006 due the insurgency of the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) in the area. It was then restarted in 2008 with 130 students and eight teachers. Over the three years of operation, these numbers have gone up to 240 students and 18 teachers.
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