South Sudan: JRS accompanies nursery school teachers in Yambio
20 May 2013

Children happily playing on a school ground in South Sudan. (Mercy Muchai/JRS)
I was motivated to share my experience in teaching as a means to support the teachers.
Yambio, 20 May 2013 - The Bishop Abanginte Nursery School is a school run by the Catholic Diocese of Tombura-Yambio. The school offers education services to 300 children from the age of three to six years. The school has six teachers who take care of the children. The Bishop Abanginte Nursery school was initiated to give an opportunity to pre-scholars prepare for primary school.

Bishop Abanginte nursery school is located near St. Mary's Parish. During a JRS visit to the centre, it was revealed that some of the teachers did not have a formal training in early childhood education. The teachers shared their challenges, ranging from difficulties for children to grasp reading skills, mathematics skills, to pay attention in class and many more. I was motivated to share my experience in teaching as a means to support the teachers.

A calling to support. My strong inner feeling prompted me to contact one Sister called Elizabeth and shared my observations while at the nursery school. Sr. Elizabeth is in charge of Education in the Catholic Diocese Secretariat. The Sister was moved by my suggestions and agreed with me. The JRS Project Director in Yambio was equally touched and encouraged me to offer some support as our presence in Yambio was in education.

The school is very well run by Sr. Esther. While interacting with her, she shared her efforts to ensure that the school is able to help the children of Yambio. However her dilemma was difficulty in finding trained local teachers to support her cause. She has gone further and recruited some teachers from Uganda to give her support. However this does not go down without challenges because the teachers from Uganda do not understand or speak in local Zande language. This makes it difficult for the teachers to communicate with children. However their contribution is enormous as they have supported the local untrained teachers to support the children.

Training for teachers. Following the guidance of Sr. Elizabeth, I offered to the teachers a four lesson package. The training involved demonstrations, practical and theory on the goals and objectives of pre-school, teaching language skills, teaching mathematical skills and basic psychology on understanding children. The teachers were very excited and thanked JRS for their presence in Yambio. The teachers requested for more lessons but I promised to look into it at a later date.

I believe that my service to the teachers brought awareness on their responsibilities. This will enable them to offer professional services and contribute more to the children. The teachers also received gifts of books for teaching language and mathematical skills.

JRS presence in Yambio will have an impact on many more teachers and will be of great help to the children of Yambio whom are motivated to learn.

By Hezekiah Ronald, JRS Yambio Project

JRS first started work in Nimule in 1997, and expanded to include projects in nearby Kajo Keji and Lobone in 2001, followed by a fourth project in Yei in 2004. These projects have since been closed and currently JRS is present in Yambio and Maban from 2013. The educational programmes encompass a wide range of support which includes the construction and renovation of schools; scholarships and assistance with educational materials; adult literacy; teacher training; vocational training; and support for school management and structures.