On Sudan’s hot dusty plain, somewhere near to the unmarked border that split South Sudan from Sudan last year, thousands of Nuba have gathered. They have fled from Khartoum’s Antonovs, which have dropped hundreds, perhaps thousands, of bombs onto civilian targets since June 2011. Hundreds of thousands more Nuba are internally displaced, hiding in caves in the mountains.
Despite this, our local partners are working in the Nuba Mountains to provide primary education for children that are affected by the current conflict.
Further South, during fifty years of civil war between Sudan and South Sudan, children often could not learn to read and write. Instead they learnt to fire AK47s, run from helicopter gunships and recognise whether planes would drop food or bombs. The few years of peace since 2005 has allowed South Sudan to start building itself from the dust. With less than 10% of the population having finished primary school, everyone is thirsty for education. Scattered around the rural villages of South Sudan, small schools have started opening under trees. Their teachers are untrained, returning refugees. They practice writing with sticks in the dust and they sit on branches from the bush.
Having opened under trees in 2008, over six hundred children now walk up to twenty miles per day to attend Marol Academy. The school is one of the only fully functioning schools amongst the 90,000 Apuk Dinka tribe and now has buildings to help the children’s learning. In April 2011, Marol Academy opened as a secondary school. With the educational capacity in South Sudan so low, there are no trained doctors, nurses, engineers or teachers amongst the Apuk. Secondary school is a gateway to provide these skills.
Marol School, near Luonyaker in South Sudan is described as a ‘Girls school, to which Boys may come!’, emphasizing the need to increase female education.