Life goes on in South Sudan
21st January 2014
As reports of violence and suffering stream out of South Sudan one
story offers a ray of hope. The story is of ordinary people's
determination to continue ordinary life against all odds, and of
their determination to invest in the long term future when their
short term future is so at risk.
Last week 77 teachers from around South Sudan attended an in-service teacher training course in Yambio supported by Solidarity with South Sudan.
Solidarity with South Sudan is a collaborative effort by religious congregations of priests and nuns to respond more effectively to the immense and urgent needs of South Sudan. One of their initiatives is the Solidarity Teachers' Training College in Yambio.
In politically unstable situations missionaries have a reputation for staying in solidarity with local people after most other international personnel have left. This means missionaries are well placed to support the people they work with in a very meaningful way.
The sisters who run the Solidarity Teachers' Training College in Yambio have been innovative in finding ways to continue their education work. Principal of the college, Sr. Margaret Scott, mobilised the teachers for training by using radio. Announcements about the training were broadcast a week before so students could prepare for the sometimes dangerous journey to attend class. It may seem unorthodox to run training during such a wave of violence but the prospect of training gave teachers hope.
"There are still a couple on the way… [students] were notified on the radio, and they have had a week to get organised. Two teachers from Torit [in the South-east] arrived after four days on the road, and they were still in good spirits," says Sr. Margaret.
The training course is funded by Misean Cara, an organisation that allocates funding from Irish Aid to development work by Irish missionaries in developing countries. Misean Cara funds a number of Solidarity with South Sudan's initiatives as well as projects by other Irish missionary congregations in South Sudan.
The Solidarity Teachers' Training College is revered for giving people the chance to study, and refine their teaching skills in their own country. In the past, students would have to re-locate to Uganda spending years away from their families to acquire the qualifications needed to teach.
Solidarity with South Sudan's teachers' training colleges in Yambio and Malakal are certified by the South Sudan Department of Education.
Started by a political power struggle between President Salva Kiir, and his former deputy Riek Machar, the crisis in South Sudan has already seen an estimated 86,000 people flee the country according to the UNHCR.