On August 15th, Room to Learn (RtL) South Sudan joined members of the Ministry of Education Science & Technology, development partners, and school girls to celebrate National Girls’ Education Day in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.
The theme of this year‘s celebration, “Educate Girls for Participation in the Development of South Sudan," emphasized enhancing behavioral change with a particular focus on girls’ education. While addressing the gathering, Hon. Manase Lomole Waya, deputy governor of Central Equatoria State, stressed the importance of girls’ education, as well as preventing gender-based violence and non-inclusive cultural practices that hinder girls’ education. The deputy governor also emphasized the need to enforce community by-laws if girls are to be protected from cultural biases that restrict their ability to learn.
Room to Learn donated 20 school bags, along with text books, to the girls for excelling in the South Sudan Primary School Leaving Examination.
Manuela, a 14-year-old beneficiary, said the program inspires girls to study. “I am very excited as the books will help me improve my reading and I will use the bag to carry all my books. Rain will never destroy my books again,” she said. “I encourage my siblings and other girls like me to enjoy education and become better women in the future."
Good news from South Sudan! We are pleased to report that Room to Learn is set to begin its first phase of community work this September. Thanks to your support, we will resume efforts to expand education opportunities that are inclusive and promote social cohesion among the most disadvantaged groups in South Sudan, including those displaced by the recent conflict.
After decades of civil war and ongoing turmoil, there are many issues still preventing South Sudan’s education system from reaching its full potential. For many, the classroom remains a dangerous place. Room to Learn is working with school community members to find ways of improving learning opportunities for children and youth. We’re laying the groundwork for communities to provide core education services and tailor interventions that will give children access to safe, quality education. Our approach is to instill a sense of ownership among these communities, and build their capacity to devise and implement school development plans.
Education is key to creating lasting peace and prosperity in the world’s newest nation. It is our hope that an expanded, improved, and safer education service will serve the needs of South Sudanese communities and, at the same time, help promote stability.
We rely on your continued support. In coming months, we’ll share with you the stories of positive change that Room to Learn is creating in the lives of South Sudan’s children and youth.
While a cease-fire agreement was signed on January 23, 2014 following the outbreak of violence on December 15, 2013, the situation in South Sudan has remained volatile. The conflict has displaced nearly 1.1 million South Sudanese both internally and externally as some refugees have fled to neighboring countries. Unfortunately, the Room to Learn South Sudan (RtL) project has been unable to resume full project operations under these conditions. However, despite the uncertainly, the RtL team has been considering a number of creative approaches to implementation. Your donation is helping us respond to the changed context and fluid dynamics now seen in the country.
In the months ahead, the Room to Learn project will aim to serve children who have been displaced by the conflict and are cut off from accessing schooling in their home communities. Project activities will also seek to support those communities struggling with a huge influx of displaced persons, straining the already limited resources found across the country. A key focus of our work will be to employ a “do no harm” approach in all activities and to help communities process the trauma of conflict both through psychosocial support and transparent dialogue aimed at building bridges. We thank our donors for their ongoing support of these valuable efforts to provide access to education and hope for a better future to those struggling with the violence in South Sudan.
On Dec.15, violence broke out in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, and spread to other states throughout the country. What started out as a political conflict quickly became a conflict along tribal lines, resulting in the displacement of over 700,000 people (including more than 650,000 displaced within South Sudan), and giving rise to a massive humanitarian crisis. While government and opposition forces signed a ceasefire on Jan. 23, the situation remains tenuous. Despite the current instability, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is urging schools to open on time wherever possible, stating, “let our schools be full, let all children go to and continue in school, let South Sudan be a learning, and thus a peaceful, country.”
In the context of this changing and complex environment, Winrock has been reviewing how the Room to Learn project can safely operate. Room to Learn is community based at its core, and the very structure of the project itself goes the farthest toward ensuring its success in providing for children’s safe access to quality education, despite the challenges facing South Sudan. In addition to being rooted in the community, the Room to Learn project is designed to expand education opportunities that are inclusive and promote social cohesion, which is particularly relevant in the current landscape. On behalf of Winrock and our partners, thank you for your generous support. Your commitment is invaluable as we move ahead, and we look forward to sharing news of our progress.
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Program Associate, Empowerment & Civic Engagement