Demand for basic education in Abyei Achok
There are more than 15,000 people living in the Abyei Achok area. Conditions of life in the village are hard. The population profile in South Sudan is weighted towards the young. Many young people, particularly girls, fail to obtain or to complete a primary education. One primary school is currently operating, but it does not have permanent facilities. Classes are conducted in the open, under trees. There are very few desks and blackboards. About 950 students regularly or occasionally attend the existing school. Six paid teachers and twelve volunteers are currently teaching at that school.
Local estimates provided to us indicate that upward of 700 additional students (grades 1 to 8) would attend school if classrooms and teachers could be provided. Current obstacles to attendance include the lack of classrooms and hesitancy to send children to schools that besides lacking walls and resources can’t operate effectively in the rainy season. Distance travelled by children is also an issue. There is the additional factor of reluctance to send girls to environments in which their safety may be in question.
There is a lot of enthusiasm for increasing the availability of basic educational services in Abyei Achok, from the broader the community there as well as those involved in the educational sphere.
Outline of the Anek Mathiang school project
The idea to build a school in Abyei Achok has percolated for a while. The idea has come to take a concrete form in a proposal that was worked out during Zacharia Machiek’s recent consultative visit to South Sudan (December 2012 – March 2013). The school, in line expressed community need, is to be centrally located minimising the walking distance to school and representing the best option for prospective students. Additionally, it was determined that the school should primarily cater to girls, although allowance will be made for boys up to the age of ten to attend. The school will take the name “Anek Mathiang primary school”. The name chosen for the school is significant – Anek Mathiang is an heroic female figure in the recent history of South Sudan.
Under the current proposal the school will be built in several stages over the next few years. Building the first stage of the proposed school will benefit approximately 100 first and second grade primary school students. That assumes quite a high density (by Australian standards) of 50 children per classroom. That is low by South Sudanese standards.
None of these developments will occur spontaneously without support from the Australian community. SSOE and the supporters of the school project will be working to make it all happen.
Progress so far or anticipated in Abyei Achok in 2013 and 2014
In South Sudan the project is beginning to take shape. We have a committee in the village and some exciting developments have occurred since our President visited at the beginning of 2013.
In an enormously impressive effort in a few months beginning in December 2012 a volunteer workforce from the community of Abyei Achok was able to create all the bricks required for the life of the school building project. The bricks were than baked to ensure their long term stability. SSOE was able to support participants by providing staples for them and their families.
All going well, construction of the first stage of the school building, including grade 1 and 2 classrooms and a teachers room, will start during 2014 (in the dry season).
Current activities of South Sudan Orphan Education
In Australia SSOE will be conducting fundraising events to help secure part of the funding required for the project. We have already had several fundraisers recently. Of course we are also exploring the possibility of obtaining funding from agencies and donors that may be interested in the project.
Further activities will be announced on this website as details are settled.