ECW enables children relocate to real classrooms after nearly a decade learning under tree
Aluong Elizabeth, headteacher of Green Valley Nursery School speaks infront of a completed 1 block, 3 classrooms permanent building in Nimule -South Sudan
Education Cannot Wait project ensures nearly 50 school children in Nimule, Eastern Equatoria state relocate to a more conducive secluded environment after they spent nearly a decade in a harsh learning environment.
Backstory: Green Valley Nursery School is located in Mutoyo East in Nimule town. It is a community school that taught under a huge tree for 7 years. 35 children from the community studied under the tree, while 5 of their teachers [4 females, 1 male] shared a small grass-thatched hut [tukul] as a staff room. The teachers would take turns to sit in the staff room while others are conducting lessons.
The tree shade at Green Valley Nursery School accommodated three classes; 1 baby class and 2 middle class. The school had no latrine. The children and teachers would scatter into the community to ease themselves. Most of the children would often not return to class.
The school is part of the 39% of learning centres that are in open air or under trees –as indicated in the 2018 Educational Management Informational Service data available for South Sudan Joint Education Sector Review.
Aluong Elizabeth Ngong, the headteacher said:
“During the rainy season, the children go home to seek shelter. We would cancel lessons. Some of them don't return to class. The children were exposed to disease such pnemonia during cold sessions because they are sitting in open space under a tree. People from the community, including drunkards also used to walk freely near the tree and sometimes interrupting lessons. The children and the teachers could not concentrate on their lessons. This resulted into less proper building of the education foundation of our children.”
In South Sudan, inadequate educational infrastructure such as that of Green Valley Nursery school is not disability, gender or conflict sensitive. It also plays a major role in deterring children’s access, retention and learning.
Green Valley Nursery Children between 3-5 years used to learn under this tree before ECW support aided the construction of permanent classrooms
Programme Activities: With funding from the Education Cannot Wait project, MYRP implementing partner, Plan International has completed the construction of a three classrooms block and a latrine adjacent to the huge tree. Two of the classrooms will be used as children and one will be the teachers.
Green Valley Nursery School is being supported as part of MYRP goal to ensure learning spaces are safe, protective and enable all children and teachers to thrive with a focus on Children With Disabilities and girls.
Change: “Even if it rains now, we shall remain in class and make teaching and learning effective. The children and teachers will not need to go home for a call of nature, they will just use the latrine in the school compound,” Mrs Aluong said.
The teachers at Green Valley Nursery School also received training on teaching children in emergencies, and children with disabilities. They were also trained on learning framework.
Aluong Elizabeth Ngong is one of those who received the training. She said:
“Now teachers have improved in their teaching. They have become more proactive -not lazy, and this has had a great impact on the performance of the pupils. The children's grades have improved, thanks to the support from Education Cannot Wait.”
The school, however, has not received the South Sudan education curriculum. It still uses the Ugandan syllabus.
In terms of infrastructure, the school lacks a fence. A road passes through the school – exposing the nursery school children to accident and community interference.
The school also lacks chairs for teachers, tables, cupboard, desk for children, teaching and learning materials, and a school feeding program for the nursery children.
Education Cannot Wait is the first global multilateral fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises. Through the South Sudan Multi-Year Resilience Programme (MYRP), ECW project aims at ensuring that out-of-school children (OOSC) in priority areas have flexible, responsive routes into learning opportunities, that support their transition into further levels of education and that support their holistic wellbeing and development.
Save the Children International, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Finn Church Aid (FCA) as grantee agencies work together with 17 Implementing Partners across 6 States in South Sudan – under the leadership of the Ministry of General Education and Instruction.
Implementing partners like Plan International focuses on increased access to learning opportunities, improved quality and continuity of education, enhanced school safety, mental health, psycho-social support, gender and inclusive education.
Story by Daniel Danis/Save the Children