Sudan volunteers aid in school reconstruction
13 February 2009
After more than two decades of civil war, the school system in Southern Sudan is totally destroyed. Only about one child in three goes to school, and the available schools are in a bad physical state. Classes are normally conducted under the shade of a tree. Teachers work for nothing, or for the very little that parents can pay.
As UNV celebrated International Volunteer Day, it launched the beginning of the re-construction of Dereto primary school at the school premises in Pageri.
The construction initiative started in July as UNV tried to analyze where to find a suitable primary school in Pageri. Dereto primary school seemed right as it lay in the middle of the county. The community had come together to provide temporary classes and volunteer teachers. The later factor allowed pupils from the surrounding Payams to access the school without moving long distances.
UNV volunteers were able to gather US$ 104,000 in cash and in-kind contribution for the realization of both projects in Kapoeta and in Juba. More than 95 percent of this contribution was in-kind from the private sector.
Among the equipments donated to the school for the reconstruction were 10 wheelbarrows, which will ease the labour of carrying sand and stones from their respective sites; 20 shovels and 15 hoes (from the Joint Donor Office); US$ 94,000 in-kind contributions of construction material from Nimule Logistics Company ;and US$ 5,000 in cash contributions from UNV.
The equipments donated by the Joint Donor Office will later be used for farming; just as Development Planning Specialist Tinuoye Mary affirmed: "Better to give a fishing tool than fish”.
The slogan was meant to teach the people of Pageri that the hoes, shovels and wheelbarrows are the tools to enable them produce their own food in future. She further stressed that knowledge is power and the only way to attain knowledge is through education.
“The best any one can give is education," she said to the people of Pageri. “What we have brought to you is a tool which your children and the coming generations will benefit from.”
According to the Programme Officer of UNV in South Sudan, Samuel Eyambe, the package comes as a contribution from different people and organisation including people from Eastern Equatoria working with the UN. "Education is the highest priority for UNV," he said, "and we will fight for it.”
Mr. Eyambe further encouraged the parents of Pageri to volunteer and help in the construction of Dereto primary school.
The Payam Education School Supervisor of Pageri, Mr. Vuni Joseph Bashir, said that the re-construction of Dereto primary school will decrease the long distances and the number of school drop-outs will fall. Long distances, poverty, tradition and inadequate facilities have led a majority of pupils in South Sudan to drop out of school – they are thus left without any education.
Mr. Vuni further outlined the challenges faced in Pageri as lack of learning space and inadequate teachers. He emphasized that only three teachers out of the twelve teachers were on the Government payroll.
A primary four pupil, Alimu Abraham, said the pupils had few chairs and that rain had been falling inside the classes. He said that his dream of becoming a doctor was still in sight now that the learning environment had improved.
The headmaster of Dereto primary school, Severy Gama Pitia, listed a number of difficulties the school has been going through due to the poor construction. He thanked UNV, private sector donors and Government for availing their children a place to call school. He called on Government officials especially in the education sector to visit rural schools so that they can get the real picture of schools located in there.
The re-construction of the school will end after a period of three months depending on the labour support from the people of Pageri Payam. Currently it is a work-in-progress and has to be monitored by our UNV volunteer engineers for the stipulated period until the project is completed.
Many youths that fought in the SPLA rebel army are now flocking to school in order to finally learn reading, writing and English. UNICEF plans to support the project as soon as the school construction is finalized.