As part of its ongoing support to the national and state level Directorates of Alternative Education Systems (AES) of the Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI), and as its contribution to the effort being exerted to improve the literacy situation in South Sudan, the UNESCO Juba Office has refurbished the Aweil Women Multi-Purpose Learning Centre (AWMLC) at a cost of close to $76,000. The funding for the work was secured from the US Government supported, Literacy and Basic Life Skills for Women and Girls in South Sudan, project.
The AWMLC was first conceived by the Lions Club USA which set out to build an eight classroom building, meant to be a multipurpose facility for women in Aweil town, capital of the former Northern Bahr el Ghazal State. However, the work on the building was discontinued following the December 2013 conflict, and the wear and tear through disuse had damaged the building that was standing without any use. As the main structure and the partitions of the rooms were built, what remained to be done was fixing doors, windows, roof, and other fixtures, and plastering the walls and finishing the floor with tiles. It was also necessary to provide the Centre with sustainable power supply, classroom desks, tables, blackboards, etc. The refurbishing work has managed to do all these, and the Centre is now up and running, providing much needed literacy classes to the community around it.
The major beneficiary and the entity that is managing the AWMLC is an innovative literacy project called, Literacy at the Well, first launched by a group of South Sudanese refugees, who were part of the group known as the “The Lost Boys of Sudan”. Their mission was to rebuild South Sudan by bringing education to its people, and inspiring hope through the Lost Boys’ story of courage, endurance, perseverance and faith.
Women in the Aweil area, like most parts of South Sudan where the population relies on water from wells, spend hours waiting in queues to fill their water containers. In dry seasons, as expected, the volume of water at the wells would go down, and the amount of time spent in queues increases substantially.
The Lost Boys thought it would be wise to make use of the time women spend waiting in queues for water. Thus, they created the Literacy at the Well program, where mobile teachers (trained by the organization) go to the well sites to deliver lessons on literacy.
From the inception of the organization in 2010, 1,650 beneficiaries (mostly women) have been reached; three water points have classes established under trees by the water sites, and two community learning centres established for learning both literacy and vocational skills. Due to the crises that erupted in December 2013, the organization scaled down its work of delivering literacy lessons at well sites. In the circumstances, the refurbishment of the AWMLC was a much needed venture as it would contribute to the provision of literacy classes in Aweil town. We are now happy it is done. “I cannot thank UNESCO Juba enough for its generous support in refurbishing this centre. We could not have done it in any other way,” said Mr. William Machok Mou, Manager of Literacy at the Well.
The contribution of UNESCO Juba to the literacy work in Aweil is not limited to the refurbishing work it just completed. In fact, 936 adults attend literacy classes with support from the office. It has also trained 30 adult literacy facilitators who are now conducting literacy classes in the various community learning centers in the area. “I am very happy to have been enrolled in such an attractive, well-furnished and well lighted centre. Thank you, UNESCO”, said Abuk Christine, one of the learners at the AWMLC.
UNESCO Juba office in turn thank the US Government and its aid organization USAID for their support.