A student at in Gendrassa refugee camp primary school in Maban, South Sudan. In Maban, a girl is more likely to die in childbirth than finish primary school. (Angela Wells — Jesuit Refugee Service)
(Maban) July 29, 2015 — "Education will teach kids how to bring peace through the pen and the negotiation table," said Leila, a 27-year-old refugee teacher from Sudan who has dedicated her life to promoting education in protest of injustice.
For decades, the people of Sudan and South Sudan have suffered ongoing injustice and conflict as the powerful elite place valuable resources over human lives.
"When I teach I feel happy because I know my students are going to know their rights," she said in her home in Gendrassa refugee camp, South Sudan.
Where Jesuit Refugee Service works in Maban county, Upper Nile, refugees from Sudan constitute more than two-thirds of the local population. The host community is made up of many recent returnees who were previously in exile in Sudan during the second civil war. They have come home to find a local government crippled, unable to provide basic services. This is especially true of education as secondary schools were closed throughout 2014, with only a few opening recently. Government-run primary schools still struggle to offer minimal services.
Education not only ensures to these younger generations gain the knowledge they need, but also instills a sense of normalcy for children and hope for their communities. This is especially true in South Sudan, where less than half of children are in school and illiteracy rates are among the highest in the world. The same is true for the 130,000 Sudanese refugees who are seeking asylum in Maban, South Sudan.
JRS invests in teachers who are fostering a new generation of peace builders. JRS has established teacher training programs, adult and youth English literacy courses as well as a nursery school in Maban which reach both refugees and the host community.
Prioritizing education will protect lives today and build a more just tomorrow.
by Angela Wells
JRS Eastern Africa Communications Officer
Related story: South Sudan: learning in emergencies
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