South Sudan: From Student, to Teacher, to Leader
Good-quality education is a real challenge in the newly independent Republic of South Sudan. After decades of civil war, the country’s education system has been paralysed and its schools destroyed.
Many generations lost the opportunity to study, leaving parents unable to find work and pay school fees for their children. The vicious cycle continues, unless community members and young families can make a change.
In Aweil East County, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, life is especially difficult. The area is home to the Dinka Malual, whose cattle were completely lost in raids during the war.
Missing out on school
People have very little income, if any, and depend on small-scale farming, fishing, and eating wild fruits and leaves to survive. Due to rising prices of food and goods, family incomes are nil and school fees near impossible to pay.
For many children, parents cannot afford to send them to school past year 3 or 4 in primary school. That’s why Save the Children opened the Malualkon Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Centre in 2004.
Emmanuel Yak Bol is a 26-year-old teacher at the centre, teaching carpentry. Emmanuel also manages his own workshop in the market, training community members in carpentry skills.
Emmanuel started working for Save the Children as a TVET instructor in 2010. He was a student in the Centre from 2004 to 2005. Before joining, he had dropped out of school and life was difficult.
His parents were very poor, and they relied on selling firewood to buy food. The training he attained helped him become a role model for his community and his students. Here, Emmanuel talks about his path from student, to teacher, to leader.
“My name is Emmanuel Yak Bol, and I’m a former student from the Save the Children vocational training centre. I began here at the centre in 2004, and graduated in 2005. Then I began working in my field, carpentry.
Force for change
“In 2010, I started work with Save the Children as a teacher. I wanted to engage and teach others. We need students to spread the word, to see the goodness of this school so more will come. This school is actually doing something, it’s changing people.
“I’m the eldest in my family, and this vocational training helped me a lot. When I was younger, my mother had all the responsibility because my father died. They told me to go to school, but when my father died I had to put my exams down and work. I made my mother happy. Now, I am doing something to take care of her.
Running a business
“I’m also married with one child. I plan my life, I have a business running – my own workshop in the market.
“I want to follow that business to be successful because it is my life. When you do nice work, people like it. Beds, cupboards, office desks. Office desks are 500ssp. When you are getting 500ssp, you feel happy in South Sudan.
- Carpentry student William Thiel, 20, shaves and smoothes a wooden chair leg at the centre.
“Now my life has changed. I’m a leader to a people who are coming back to South Sudan.
“My sisters see me working because of them. I want them to be more educated than me, and I must support my mother and my community. If I see someone not feeling well, I must give something.
“We’re looking for development now. But I don’t worry – I have my work. I have something. But I can’t leave my people to die; I must help others.
“This school is special; it’s changing people. Without this vocational training, I could not talk to you here.
Save the Children supports the Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Vocational Training Centre in Malualkon, Aweil East County since 2004, targeting former child soldiers, school dropouts and orphaned children, regardless of the level of education they have attained. The TVET Centre is currently offering courses in Tailoring, Agriculture, Carpentry and Joinery, Block Laying and Concrete Practice (Masonry). Accelerated English classes are a part of the curriculum, and Hair Dressing is also soon to be opened.
The centre has an important Social Empowerment component through girls’ club activities and life skills training. The training is conducted for nine months, imparting practical skills to the learners who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunity. The training provided by the centre has uplifted the lives of former students and their families.
Graduates have been employed by companies and government institutions, opened their own workshops and businesses, and created employment opportunities for the locals.