After a 34 hour journey that included enduring a non-airconditioned airplane in DC for 2 hours in the 98 degree heat while we waited for them to “fix” whatever was wrong, a full out sprint in Brussels through two terminals to avoid a night’s stay, and another two and half hour hangout in Rwanda, I was finally back in South Sudan to reconvene with friends and fellow educators. This was my third trip to the world’s newest country where I’ve led workshops training teachers and administrators to help bolster their schools performance and clout in their respected communities.
This past trip in June was a little different: usually I go for 12 days and this time it was 19, I’m usually in one place and this time I spent most of the time in a 1991 Toyota Land Cruiser bouncing across three countries (Congo, Uganda, South Sudan), and usually I’m with a team of 5 or 6 but this time it was me and one other guy! The results, however, were the same—an amazing experience!
My primary objective on this trip was to meet with school leaders across the country and hear from them the challenges they face as a school and what we can do to help support their schools. In all, I visited 12 different schools and visited with 77 teachers. The power and value of education is so universal and it is always exciting to see engaged teachers who love their profession and want the best for their students.
If you haven’t seen in the news lately, South Sudan is struggling with tribal rivalries and ethnic differences that have led to horrible atrocities and major human rights violations. The country itself is on the verge of collapse only four years into its existence. This is why our work with education is of vital importance; educating future generations, the future leaders, can bring a positive change that will put South Sudan on the road toward stability, progress, and opportunity.
Education is the bedrock for any group of people to contribute effectively to their community and successfully participate in a democratic society. It’s our hope that we can help foster an educational environment where independent, higher order thinking takes place, pushing students to learn how to think for themselves and solve problems. I was excited to see student-focused learning taking place in the schools where we’ve conducted our previous two teacher workshops on this trip. In fact, one of the primary schools in the Kajo Keji district that we partner with produced the highest scoring marks for the entire Central Equatoria region of South Sudan!!
There is plenty of work to do, of course. But we are off to a good start, and we hope to continue to see schools develop and progress where all children have access to a quality education. The major way S4SS is paving the way for education is through our new Teacher Scholarship Program to provide opportunities for teachers to earn higher qualifications and improve their craft. If you’d like to support us in this endeavor, please visit our fundraising page.