Room to Learn - Education for Youth in South Sudan

by Winrock International
Vetted
RtL staff visiting community school in Nimule
RtL staff visiting community school in Nimule

As South Sudan prepares for the start of its annual rainy season, Winrock International has begun to ramp down its activities under the Room to Learn (RtL) program. Due to the increasing humanitarian crisis and the fragile peace agreement of August 2015, USAID has decided to shift its focus to strengthening resilient and conflict resistant communities in the country; as a result, the RtL program will close in September 2016 – two years earlier than initially planned.

In spite of the dire political and security environment, the RtL Project has entered 388 school communities. By the end of September we will have supported nearly 400 school development plans, trained over 1,400 teachers in literacy instruction, introduced innovative gender and social inclusion approaches and psycho-social support practices, and delivered more than 990 packages of essential education instructional materials for teachers and students across six states. The project is estimated to have supported roughly 233,000 children to date and hopes to reach an additional 60,000 by the end of September.

Your generous support enabled us to supplement our grants to school committees for education materials such as portable blackboards, lesson planning books for teachers, supplementary readers, educational games, and basic school supplies. These materials are a vital complement to RtL’s teacher training efforts, enabling educators to prepare relevant lesson plans and adjust learning materials to be targeted and effective for each level of learner. As Denya Alex Michael, an English teacher at Leikor primary school, notes, “The skills I learned from the <RtL> training helped me to deliver child-centered lessons through the use of handmade teaching aids. Children now report to school on time because they find my teaching interesting.”

On behalf of Winrock and our partners FHI360 and Plan International, we thank you for your generous support. Your commitment has been invaluable in making a difference in the lives of hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese students and educators in hundreds of communities– an impact that will positively affect these communities for years to come. Winrock and its partners continue to hope that peace and stability will return to South Sudan, and we remain committed to improving educational quality and access for youth and children throughout the country.

RtL delivers desks to school in Magwi
RtL delivers desks to school in Magwi
Thank you for supporting students in South Sudan!
Thank you for supporting students in South Sudan!
Makpwe is a school officer in Nimule County
Makpwe is a school officer in Nimule County

An inspiring and informed teacher is the most important school-related factor influencing student achievement. Now, the primary-level teachers of South Sudan are proving, with the right support and training, they can educate and inspire the future generations of South Sudan’s children.  

With the support from USAID’s Room to Learn (RtL) Program, Winrock International – in partnership with FHI360 and Plan International – has trained Master Trainers to train teachers in the five components of reading instruction, plus English language acquisition. The training content also focuses on the use of educational materials supplied by RtL, plus skills training for the creation of teacher-made and learner-made materials. The content of the training, aimed at head teachers and teachers in primary schools, targets literacy, materials management and care, and psychosocial strategies aimed at positive classroom management. Head teachers and mentor teachers also receive training on mentorship to enable them to provide adequate support to teachers post-training. Developing systems that support teachers in sustained professional learning and refinement of teaching practice is perhaps the single most important way to promote student learning and educational opportunity.

Makpwe, a 29-year-old School Officer, and Guma, a head teacher, both attended the same training session in Nimule town, Eastern Equatoria State in December, 2015. After the training, Makpwe commented, “For me personally, I have l learnt a lot of new things, and as a teacher it is very important in my life because this is a training that I didn’t get before and I feel very happy for that because I think it will help me to educate the children that I teach in my school very well.”

Within the first phase of training, the RtL Program has trained a total of 330 teachers from 55 schools between November and December, 2015; 50 percent of whom have been women. RtL will aim to reach 1,472 educators in training by the end of September 2016. These early initiatives have provided a compass for how to build better trainings – affording teachers of South Sudan and, by extension, their future students every success.

We want to thank you for your continued support which enables us to expand our impact in each school community we enter in South Sudan!

Teachers and master trainers at training session.
Teachers and master trainers at training session.
Joice - PTA Member, Terekeka, CES
Joice - PTA Member, Terekeka, CES

As a member of the Terekeka Primary School Parents and Teachers Association (PTA) in Central Equatoria state (CES) in South Sudan, Joice, 35, had long felt that the community and local parents should be making greater efforts to ensure more primary-level children were attending regular classes. As a widow and mother of eight, Joice understands the complexities of educating the young, especially girls, in South Sudan and felt that their PTA group had long been ill-equipped to address or resolve these issues.

“As a member of the PTA and of this community, I would often see young children loitering around the village. As a PTA group, we didn’t really know how to mobilize ourselves, how to work together to lobby parents, tribal leaders, or government to start to address these fundamental problems.”

In October 2015, RtL provided the Terekeka Primary School PTA with training on how to mobilize themselves and their school. The training also focused on how to work together, with teachers, parents, and with government structures to improve education opportunities children in their community. The program has changed Joice’s - and her fellow PTA members - entire attitude. They have come to understand the magnitude of the responsibility they hold within the community and they have now realize that they have the capacity to ensure positive change.

“If I see a child in the street I will immediately find out who the parents are and ensure that they are taken to the tribal chief to explain why their child is not in school. ” she says. “So many parents did not even know that the government schools are free! We are now working closely with the tribal leaders, parents and the school to ensure the local children have access to the education they need and deserve.”

RtL, funded by USAID and implemented by Winrock International in partnership with FHI 360 and Plan International USA, aims to reach 388 PTAs across South Sudan with capacity building training in 2016. This training will enable communities to advocate for improved education and attendance in their school communities.

We want to thank you for your continued support which enables us to expand our impact in each school community we enter in South Sudan!

Schoolgirls pose for a picture at school in CES
Schoolgirls pose for a picture at school in CES
Students hold up signs at the ILD 2015 event
Students hold up signs at the ILD 2015 event

In South Sudan only 27 percent of people 15 and over are literate. The numbers are even more staggering for girls where literacy drops to just 16 percent. As part of an International Literacy Day celebration in Juba, on September 22nd  Room to Learn (RtL) South Sudan distributed Instructional Material Package (IMP) grants to five Central Equatoria State schools. The grants included school supplies such as: books, teaching and learning materials, classroom supplies, flash boards, educational games and more.

The day kicked off with roughly 1,400 students from the five different schools spilling onto the grounds of Gumbo Primary School, which hosted the event. The celebration came alive as music from a marching band filled the space. Students held up signs with appeals such as “Kick illiteracy out of South Sudan” and “Girls have the right to learn too.”

Kids were invited to read out loud, for the first time, one of the books they were given that day. They had a VIP audience that included not only the mass of fellow students but U.S. Ambassador Molly Phee; Minister of Education, Science and Technology for the Government of South Sudan Dr. John Gai Yoah; and Acting State Minister of Education For Central Equatoria Catherine Kapoki.

Despite the pressure from the crowd, each student who read spoke with confidence bringing the stories to life. Their presentation was inspiring and showcased how education can help prepare young people to succeed. There is still a lot of work to be done to kick illiteracy out of South Sudan but we hope this is the start to a bright future, where more young people will have the opportunity to learn to read.

Your continued commitment enables us to have a bigger impact on each school community we enter in South Sudan. We thank you for your support!

US Ambassador Molly Phee looks at RTL IMP grants
US Ambassador Molly Phee looks at RTL IMP grants
Young girl reads story out loud at ILD 2015 event
Young girl reads story out loud at ILD 2015 event
Two young students read a book provided by RtL
Two young students read a book provided by RtL

Links:

Pupils from Two River Banks Primary School
Pupils from Two River Banks Primary School

Following the completion of community entry in Room to Learn (RtL) South Sudan’s first school communities, the project has begun to award the first round of instructional material grants to schools. The schools in South Sudan have been devastated by years of war and conflict. They suffer from limited physical infrastructure, resources and human capacity. RtL’s instructional materials grants are the first grant package that school communities are able to apply for following the completion of their school development plan (SDP) during community entry. The instructional materials grants are designed to address the lack of basic teaching resources available to schools in South Sudan.

The standard instructional materials grant package includes: portable blackboards, flash boards, small slate chalk boards, learning aids for teachers, lesson planners for teachers, storage cabinet, supplementary readers; and learning games. Also included in the package are basic stationery items to help teachers engage children in the classroom, such as: chalk, pens, paper, rulers, glue, scissors, markers, and other items. RtL has already awarded 46 instructional materials grants and aims to award 369 by the end of 2015. Schools that receive an instructional materials grants package will also be able to apply for additional grants to address other needs they identified in their SDPs and teachers will also be able to receive additional training.

These grants provide a start for RtL school communities to improve and create safer school environments for their children. On behalf of Winrock and our partners, we thank donors for their generous support. Your commitment enables us to have a bigger impact on each school community we enter in the coming months!

Pupils in class at Kapoeta South Primary School
Pupils in class at Kapoeta South Primary School
The grants address limited resources for schools
The grants address limited resources for schools
 

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Organization Information

Winrock International

Location: Little Rock, AR - USA
Website: http:/​/​www.winrock.org
Project Leader:
Alyssa Cochran
Arlington, VA United States

Funded Project!

Combined with other sources of funding, this project raised enough money to fund the outlined activities and is no longer accepting donations.
   

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