(Kajo Keji, Southern Sudan) May 14, 2011 – The children of Tipere, Southern Sudan, can now study in better conditions after Jesuit Refugee Service handed the keys to a new classroom block over to the education director of Kajo Keji County.
While most neighboring communities have benefited from internationally funded school construction projects, Tipere’s school system has, until now, been operating out of dilapidated, mud-and-stick walled buildings that look as though they will collapse if struck by an errant soccer ball.
The new building, on the other hand, is one of the snazziest in the county. “We are happy today because JRS has given us a building that is truly a unique structure here in Kajo Keji county,” said County Education Director Moses Kopurot during the handing over ceremony.
Good maintenance is paramount
Designed by JRS engineers Veronica Sanchez and Alejandro del Castillo, the building sits atop a gently sloping hill, and has thirteen white concrete pillars guarding its veranda. In addition, the engineers added ten concrete benches to the veranda, so that children have somewhere to sit while waiting for classes to begin. The rocky hills which separate Tipere from the Nile River form a striking backdrop for the new building.
"We have done our part," said JRS Primary Education Coordinator Londo Edward Eliason to the students, teachers and parents lined up in front of the new building. "Now it is time for you to do yours. You must show your appreciation by keeping your school clean and well-maintained, and by improving your academic performance."
Community contributed towards school construction
When the keys were handed over, the children erupted in cheers and applause. Head teacher Gari Benson then unlocked the classrooms and students rushed in with hollers and leaps. Once inside, spontaneous dance parties exploded in each of the four classrooms. Children embraced each other, jumped up and down, sang, pretended to write on the blackboards and posed for photos.
The construction of the school was funded mainly by Caritas Germany and Inditex, with parents in the community contributing locally available materials, such as river sand for mixing with cement, and large stones for use in the foundation.
Community members also contributed the land on which the school was built, and executive members of the Parent Teacher Association and School Management Committee aided with supervision of the site throughout the construction process.
JRS construction initiatives are always carried out in communities that demonstrate both strong support for education and strong need for permanent infrastructure.
Rebuilding the education system
This was the first classroom block built by JRS in Kajokeji in 2011. JRS plans to construct two more primary schools before the end of 2012.
Altogether, JRS supports 26 primary and five secondary schools in Kajo Keji county. In addition to improving school infrastructure and learning space, assistance includes the provision of basic educational materials, support of vulnerable groups of students, training of teachers and promotion of girls’ education. JRS also advocates for a peaceful coexistence in the community.
All support aims at supporting the Government of Southern Sudan in rebuilding the education system.