MCC photo/Candacia Greeman

Students at the Loreto School in South Sudan try out do-it-yourself telescopes. 

When South Sudan became an independent country in 2011, hopes were high and the future looked bright. But conflict broke out in 2013, and has ebbed and flowed since. Education levels remain consistently low; only half of primary school teachers have more than a primary school education. The national literacy rate is only 27 per cent, and for women it’s only 16 per cent. A 15-year-old girl in South Sudan is more likely to die in childbirth than finish secondary school.

Yet in the middle of the country, five kilometres outside of Rumbek, sit the two Loreto Schools —where MCC is supporting primary and secondary school education and helping build a more peaceful future.

We support a meal program that helps keep children in school, as well as a peace club to reduce conflict, and have placed two MCC workers at the schools: a teacher/teacher trainer, Candacia Greeman, and an administrative capacity builder, Benjamin Sprunger. See the difference MCC is making at the Loreto Schools:

MCC photo/Candacia Greeman

With rapid deforestation in South Sudan, MCC’s seedling distribution reminds students at the primary school about the importance of trees by supplying each student with a seedling of a fruit tree to plant in their community. The distribution is part of a larger agriculture sustainability project managed by Sprunger at the Loreto Schools, which also includes a school farm.

Students tend crops to provide peanuts and vegetables like tomatoes, cassava, kale and spinach for the lunch program. Having a meal at school increases attendance, and provides students with more nutritious food. Farm work also helps reinforce what students are learning in science class. With MCC support the school added another eight acres to the farm, and in 2015 they produced enough peanuts to add peanut butter to breakfast.

MCC photo/Benjamin Sprunger

A shade cover helps protect young plants from harsh heat. Agriculture is an important aspect of life in South Sudan — the students work on the school farm learning key skills while helping grow needed food for the school.

MCC photo/Candacia Greeman

The peace club at the Loreto Girls Secondary School uses the MCC Peace Clubs curriculum developed in Zambia—the Loreto Peace Club has 24 members. Students are selected either because they have an interest in peacebuilding or because they’ve been involved in conflict. Members of the club are trained in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, and share what they’ve learned with other students and the community.

MCC photo/Candacia Greeman

The Loreto Peace Club hosts Peace Day once a year — filled with dancing and sports – to celebrate the country’s independence while also promoting peace. 

MCC photo/Candacia Greeman

The peace club has also set up a big sister/little sister mentoring program between the girls’ secondary school and the primary school. They use art therapy as part of the mentoring program, which can help students like Mary Akol Ghor resolve issues and manage their behaviour and feelings. 

MCC photo/Candacia Greeman

Loreto Peace Club members use baking to bond with their “little sisters.” Once a year they organize a big sister/little sister weekend when the high school girls host their little sisters for a weekend. 

MCC photo/Candacia Greeman

Throughout the year, peace club members host cultural presentations at the school, featuring skits, songs and poems about conflict resolution. Here’s the cast of Queen Elizabeth, a skit about the importance of finding solutions to conflict from within the wisdom of one’s own culture. 

MCC photo/Candacia Greeman

Another way MCC supports the Loreto Schools is with school kits, containing notebooks, rulers, pencils and other useful school supplies. We recently provided kits for 14,000 students like James Kau Macuei in Lakes and Warrap states.

MCC photo/Candacia Greeman

As part of her work as a teacher, Greeman has acquired funding for tablets to help introduce the students to technology and improve their math skills. The tablets help reduce anxiety around math because students can work at their own pace in smaller classes. 

MCC photo/Candacia Greeman

Greeman has also secured funding to cover supplies for hands-on science experiments. Students work in small groups with their local teacher supervising, which helps to cement what they learned in class. Monica Aber Ghor, left, Rebecca Akech Madit, (centre) Monica Arin Adeng (right) build their engineering skills with Engino blocks. 

MCC photo/Candacia Greeman

Greeman also works as a trainer with the teachers, sharing new techniques to improve the quality of education at the school. Teachers learn about science projects they can try, like this rain gauge experiment that Hellena Arier Domkooc is working on. They also learn how to use drama, songs and poems to teach difficult concepts in a more engaging way.  

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