Strengthened PTAs play a critical in enhancing the learning environment
Parent-Teachers Association's newly constructed classrooms block at Rock of Age Nursery and Primary Adventist School, Magwi
Backstory: In the savannah, grassland of Magwi town of Eastern Equatoria state, 15-year-old Lona Achiro and her schoolmates’ presence in class has always been dictated by mother-nature. If it rains, there is no learning.
The Rock of Age Nursery and Primary Adventist School had no permanent structure such as classrooms and hygiene facilities for its nearly 500 children since its establishment in 2013.
“I used to fear to come to school when it rains. Sometimes I miss classes,” Achiro said.
The classrooms were roofed with plastic sheets and walls constructed with wooden poles. But over time the poles were consumed by termites and the roofs have been torn by sunshine, wind and thunderstorm. The children were forced to continue learning inside these shelters.
According to the headteacher, Otim Robert William, the condition is similar to back in the days when the pupils would sit under the trees to learn.
“During sunshine and rains, our lessons are completely disrupted. If it rains, both teachers and pupils would ran to nearby homes for cover.”
The weather conditions in Eastern Equatoria state is characterized by relatively very high temperature with limited rainfall. It has the tropical savannah climate. The highest average is 38°C in February and the lowest is 31°C in July. The condition would force some children to stay at home when it rained early in the morning “because they are aware that lessons have already been interrupted” by rain. This affected school attendance and the quality of learning.
Rock of Ages Adventist Nursery and Primary School also lacked hygiene facility for use by both children and teachers which resulted to open defecation - as narrated by Otim Robert:
“This practice would often compromise the sanitation of the school and the community as it contributed to outbreak of waterborne diseases. The practice also exposed girls from the school to attacks and abuse in the nearby bushes by unruly men. It further interrupted lessons as most pupils would delay to return to class after going into the bushes.”
BEFORE CONSTRUCTION: A dilapidated 3-classrooms block at Rock of Age Nursery and Primary Adventist School, Magwi
Program Activities: With support from the Education Cannot Wait project, the Parents-Teachers Association were empowered to improve learning environment and increase school enrolment and retention. This resulted in their active participation in the construction of the temporary learning structure and latrine.
Through ECW’s Multi-Year Resilience Programme, Save the Children, as the agent, is leading a consortium with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Finn Church Aid (FCA), and 9 sub-contracted implementing partners(IPs).
Subcontractors; Plan International, AVSI are also providing hygiene kits such as handwashing container and soaps at Rock of Age Nursery and Primary Adventist School. This is to improve sanitation and prevent the spread of the coronavirus.
Change: The construction of the one-block 3-classrooms facility and latrine by the PTA and additional Temporary Learning Structure by Plan International has had an impact on the safety of the learners and hygiene in the school. The children and teachers no longer fear the changes in the weather. They do not also run into the bushes to ease themselves.
15-year-old Lona Achiro, a pupil of Primary 7 can now concentrate on learning even during the rains.
“Since our classroom was constructed, I stay in school the whole day without any worry about sunshine or rain. I also don’t have to go to the bushes anymore because there are bad people there. I now use the ladies toilet and when I finish I just wash my hands with the containers of water and soap near here.”
14-year-old Innocent Jacob of Primary 7 appreciated ECW for the funds to construct the classrooms, latrine and handwashing materials.
He appealed for additional support to enable the construction of their school compound and a gate to make it more safer for learning.
“We have a small fence but it is spoilt. We want a good fence to avoid animals and random people from passing in the school compound when we are learning or playing.”
15-year-old Lona Achiro using a handwashing facility provided by ECW in her school.
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.
Partners like Plan International and AVSI 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