South Sudan: students from JRS schools obtain the highest grades
29 May 2012

A teacher at work in a primary school in Palwar, near Lobone. Training teachers is a core JRS activity in South Sudan. (Christian Fuchs/JRS)
Of a reported 880 students who sat for the 2011 examinations, 12 of the top 20 best performing students (six boys and six girls) came from schools supported by JRS.
South Sudan, 29 May 2012 – Many of the nation's highest achieving students attended schools supported by JRS, according to performance evaluations recently published by the South Sudan Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI).

Results of the 2011 South Sudan Certificate in Secondary Education (SSCSE), released 20 April, revealed that six out of the top ten best performing students came from schools supported by JRS, as well as 72 of the top 100. In addition, JRS supported seven of the ten best performing schools.

The outstanding performance of these students marks a significant step forward in the development of the education system in the world's newest nation, which previously relied heavily on examinations from neighbouring countries: Kenya, Uganda and Sudan.

Of a reported 880 students who sat for the 2011 examinations, 12 of the top 20 best performing students (six boys and six girls) came from schools supported by JRS. Fulla Secondary school in Nimule was named the top performing school, and the top performing candidate with a mean score of 11.17 (A-minus) came from Magwi Secondary School in Lobone; both are schools receiving comprehensive educational support from JRS.

"JRS has trained some of our teachers to prepare lesson plans and schemes of work. My school gets scholastic materials from JRS. These services have contributed to better performance of our students" said Head teacher of Lobone Secondary School, David Machar.

The results also showed great progress addressing some of the challenges to education expressed by President Salva Kiir earlier in 2011, including the expansion of access to education and the construction of more school buildings. Student performance has risen in the country, according to a government report stating that 67 percent of candidates scored at least a C-grade, compared with only 34 percent in 2010.

A dual strategy for sustainability. The School Development Team (SDT) is one of the innovative educational initiatives introduced into schools by JRS to create long term sustainability. SDT teams comprise one head teacher and two outstanding teachers from the school, charged with mentoring, supervising and coordinating key education and extra-curricular activities, to ensure holistic school development. The School Development Support Team (SDST), comprising JRS education professionals and county/sub-country education officials, provide academic and moral support to the SDT.

Promoting the increased attendance of girls at school is another important priority of JRS. Girls often struggle to complete school due to cultural norms (early marriage and lack of family support of education), as well as lack of suitable hygiene materials. JRS has tried to combat the high drop-out rate by providing girls with counselling, family guidance, hygiene comfort packages, as well as full school fees for some selected individuals.

Efforts to encourage increased attendance seem to have paid off, as girls have placed high in the examinations and reap the rewards of their hard work and dedication.

The third best performing girl in the country hailed from Kajo Keji Secondary school, and the fifth and tenth best performing girls came from Loa Secondary and Fulla Secondary, respectively; all three are schools supported by JRS.

To read the story of Esther, a teacher at Fulla Secondary school, click here.

A foundation for the future. Dr Francis Biryaho, JRS National Education Coordinator for South Sudan, maintains that JRS support was a significant factor in the high level of performance of the schools. He sees the results as the fruit of cooperation between schools, JRS staff and government education officials.

"The 2012 SSCSE results are a gift to schools, and something to cherish for posterity", said Dr Biryaho.

Working in Sudan since 1997, JRS has a long history of support for education with four projects established in Kajo Keji, Lobone, Nimule and Yei.

JRS support for secondary schools can include payment of tuition and provision of educational materials, payment of fees and transport costs for students sitting exams in Uganda, training of teachers and establishment of school development teams and governing boards, hygiene packs for girls, counselling, as well as construction and renovation of buildings and post-school support.

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