Beginning in late-2003, Canadian Aid for South Sudan assisted in the building of six primary schools in Twic County. However, Aweil East County has been universally recognized as the one area of the south where education is in the poorest condition.
CASS has worked with the Diocese of Rumbek and the southern Sudanese government in Aweil East County to build two primary schools to service the thousands of students from that region. Schools presently exist in that location but have deteriorated over the last two decades. In fact, most of the schools are held in the open, under trees. The Canada School opened in 2008, and now takes in many hundreds of students each year.
A New Challenge
During CASS’s very first trip to Aweil East, Commissioner Victor Akok provided a tour of where the region’s only secondary school had existed before it was destroyed by bombings and raids over the previous two decades. He asked the organization to consider assisting in rebuilding the education centre, stating that without such a higher school there would be no hope for a future for those completing primary school.
It has been a decade since that visit but CASS has determined the time is right to begin the project. With primary schools now filled to capacity, the need for a high school is urgent. The nearest secondary school is 50 kilometres away, leaving students with few alternatives.
Former Prime Minister Paul Martin met with CASS officials Jane Roy and Glen Pearson and donated $100,000 to get the project started. With the organization hoping to collect $300,000 to complete the project, there is still some way to go. But we have now started and the presence of this school will revolutionize the entire region.
You can be a huge help to us by considering donating to the project. With Canada’s influence now a decade old in the region, the time has come to place higher education front and centre in community life.
Background – Education in South Sudan
During the April 2001 trip with Member of Parliament Joe Fontana, Jane Roy and Glen Pearson heard this challenge:
“Would the Canadian people reach out and assist our local communities by providing the resources necessary to educate the millions of youth suffering through war, famine and slavery? Because of your country’s traditional role in fighting for human rights and assisting in international development, we look to Canada for hope in a very difficult situation.” Governor Deng Alor of South Sudan
These words clearly spelled out the challenge for CASS. Convinced that Canada and its people would choose to respond generously to the children of South Sudan, CASS has been instrumental in the building of primary schools in two different counties of South Sudan.
The challenge is daunting, as revealed in these statistics discovered by CASS in its April 2002 visit to Africa.
- There are currently 1,700 primary schools in the liberated areas of South Sudan. Virtually all these schools operate
under difficult circumstances of poor (if any) facilities, inadequate supplies and lack of qualified teachers.
- Total enrollment of children between the ages of 7-14 stands at 350,000 in primary schools. This represents only 20% of suitably aged children. Clearly, a distinct challenge exists to provide education to those 80% unreached by educational opportunities.
- Of the 1,700 primary schools in liberated areas, a full 50% are held in the outdoors, leaving them susceptible to inclement weather, especially during the rainy season. Incredible as it seems, no buildings exist for these young students.
- A severe need exists for the proper education and training of South Sudanese girls and women who have previously been marginalized by the past educational process. The provisional government of south Sudan is presently attempting to reverse this trend. There is a very low enrollment for girls in the schools: girls make up only 26% of total enrollment in primary schools. In the upper grades they are about 21% of the enrollment.
- The majority of schools have poor or non-existent sanitation facilities and lack sources of clean water. Most (71%) of the schools have no latrines and 58% have no source of clean water.
- The Secretariat of Education for South Sudan estimates that there is a decline in enrollment in the upper primary grades (5-8). Out of the pupils in grades 1-8, 88% are in grades 1-4 and only 12% are in the higher grades.
Canadian Aid for South Sudan is addressing these serious needs by assisting communities with the building of schools in Aweil East and Twic Counties. Those communities contribute to the costs and labour. If you would also like to contribute towards the expansion of education opportunities in South Sudan, please consider a donation to CASS.