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Education initiative motivates parents to send their children to school instead of working in cattle camps

Out of her seven siblings, Veronica, 12, is the first in her family to go to school. “My parents can barely feed us, let alone send us to school”, she shares. 

Warrap State’s Tonj East County in South Sudan is among the communities affected by inter-communal conflicts, cattle raids, floods and hunger crisis. Life is unbearable for many thus sending children to school is not a priority.

Veronica started to study in 2018 to 2019 but was often troubled with lack of fees and scholastic materials. “Parents view school as a burden. I tried but had to accept the reality and dropped out”, adds Veronica.

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Veronica's enthusiasm to study boosted by the scholastic materials she received from Education Cannot Wait initiative also inspired her mother to support her dream to go to school.

 

World Vision, with support from Education Cannot Wait (ECW), in partnership with Fin Church Aid (FCA) and Save the Children (SC), supported Veronica and 875 schoolchildren in Tonj East with scholastic materials in 2020.

The initiative provided the learners with exercise books, pens, pencils, eraser, sharpener and drawing materials. It also aimed to increase enrolment and retention. “When I received the support, I slept with my school materials beside me for fear of losing them. My mother finally realized the need for me to study”, she recalls.

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Her mother Hyadhai is working hard so all of her children can go to school and learn instead of working in the camps.

 

Veronica’s mother Nyadhal Deng, 40, says, “My other children are in the cattle camp and I also planned to send Veronica there to help with the cows. But when. I saw the joy in her eyes getting the school materials, I decided to work hard to support her with the fees.”

Nyadhal adds, “I have not gone to school and I did not see the importance of it. World Vision and partners opened my and other parents’ eyes. Veronica and her two younger siblings Nyalok, 8, and Manyiel, 5, are in school.”

Parents became interested to send their children to school due to the support and this favors the children.

Now in primary five, Veronica is very determined to achieve her dreams aspiring to become a teacher someday. She shares, “The need is huge but all of us can do our part to bring change in the community. I want to be a teacher so I can be a role model for other children to work hard.”

The project also constructed four temporary learning spaces. “We now have proper and better class rooms unlike before. The rains can no longer interrupt our classes. We used to study under the trees before”, she adds.

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Moses, despite being an orphan, was motivated by the support to study again.

 

Moses, 11, in primary four, lost his parents at an early age and now lives with his elder sister. “We pay SSP 6000 (US$12) per term with requirements. I stopped because I do do not want to add burden to my sister who is also struggling to make ends meet”, he says.

When Moses got the support, he was able to go back to school with his eyes set to become a doctor. He works odd jobs in people’s farmlands to earn some money for his other needs.

Head teacher John Aker says, “In 2019, we had 320 children who registered in the school but many dropped out for lack scholastics materials. In 2020, when World Vision distributed the materials, the enrolment increased to 400. As of March 2022, we have a considerable increase of 650 pupils. I am optimistic that more will come.”

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The long walks to school everyday do not matter to Veronica and her sister. Both are excited to be in school and learn.

 

As of now, 375 children in the school have received the learning kits out of the 650. Aker adds, “Parents became interested to send their children to school due to the support and this favors the children. We still appeal for school desks and uniforms for the children, otherwise, we truly appreciate the support.”

James Ring Ring, ECW Project Manager shares, “Tonj East is heavily impacted by the hunger crisis due to communal conflicts and floods and displacements. People send their children to cattle camps to work instead of school. This education initiative is truly a boost for children’s education.”

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Oblivious of the meagre surroundings and facilities, the children see the school as their stepping stone for their dreams.

 

Story and photos by Scovia Faida Charles Duku, Communications Coordinator