South Sudan is recovering from decades of civil war, which exacted a heavy toll on the country and its people. Many challenges face this new nation, including weak infrastructure and government institutions. In addition, South Sudan will need to de-mobilize thousands of ex-combatants and reintegrate internally displaced peoples and refugees.
According to the United Nations, South Sudan has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, rates for women are particularly low. In schools, the language of instruction has shifted from Arabic to English, even though the majority of teachers are not fluent in English and have little or no formal teacher training.
In March 2010, WUSC started work in South Sudan. Our education and skills training program offers a new beginning for South Sudanese adults. Similar to WUSC’s work in Sri Lanka and Afghanistan, the program in South Sudan is designed to work in a country which remains fragile in the wake of decades of war and unrest.
Teachers want extensive training in English so that they can deliver new curricula. More youth, including more women, will have opportunities for education. Better-educated youth will unlock employment opportunities. All of this will directly affect the future for hundreds of South Sudanese citizens, as well as the new government’s goals.
The country became independent in July 2011, and the project will work within the new reality.
In addition to increasing skills among South Sudanese teachers, the program will help enhance socio-economic conditions among returning refugees, resettled internally displaced people (IDPs) and non-displaced populations. It is designed to minimize conflict between community members, IDPs and returnees. Program participants must come from all groups. Project staff must carefully manage high demand for the program to ensure quality training. Classes are fully booked; staff must encourage potential trainees who did not secure a place to reapply for subsequent sessions.
The good judgment of strong partners with program-delivery experience is essential in South Sudan. Security concerns are of prime importance. Staff may need to relocate or temporarily suspend work to ensure safety of everyone involved. When this happens, WUSC is able to respond quickly, based on advice from our local partners.