2011-05-20 10:40:07

Southern Sudan: educating for independence

After voting overwhelmingly for secession in a January referendum, the people of southern Sudan began to prepare in earnest for independence.Their bid to become the world’s newest independent nation facing numerous challenges, among which are the near-total lack of infrastructure, government and civil institutions. The challenges facing Southern Sudan are indeed immense as the people of the country work to become the newest free nation on Earth: they have virtually no roads, very few medical facilities, and extremely limited water management.

Violent clashes in various southern regions have continued despite repeated calls from all sides for a return to civility: in part due to the legacy of three decades of civil war. Leaders in government and civil society are agreed that, if the country is to be successful, it must not only deal with these pressing matters of peace and development, but also find a way to educate the youngest generations for freedom.Politicians and civil society partners including the Catholic Church have taken and continue to take practical steps to meet the challenge, including going abroad in search for education funding. Still, many teachers, including Isaac Kool Majok, the Head Teacher at Abinajok Primary School some 3 Km South of Rumbek town, are decrying a shortage of teachers and are appealing to the Government to send more teachers to cope with the number of pupils, telling Good News Radio Rumbek that his school has only six teachers taking care of more than 800 pupils: 484 boys and 360 girls. Kool also appealed to the government and education partners to help the school construct at least two more classrooms, explaining that up to three groups of pupils take their classes under trees.

The Catholic Church in Southern Sudan is one of the most active partners in education, operating hundreds of schools at all levels from primary to university all across the country, which is almost as large of France and home to 9 million people, the vast majority of whom are desperately poor despite the vast natural resources of the territory.

Listen to Chris Altieri's report: RealAudioMP3

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