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A team member from the Ministry of Infrastructure and Planning at the Wau school site: In March 2012, a team of engineers from Hangar-41 and Engineers Without Borders will be traveling to Wau, Sudan to do survey, site analysis, soil study and assess availability of local building materials.

As an emerging new nation, there are great disparities in education provision between locations in the Republic of South Sudan. There is no single functional primary, intermediate, and secondary schools in the Balanda community.  Except for the few schools that were built by the Catholics and Protestants Missionaries at the beginning of twentieth century, all of which were closed in the 1950s due to civil war, no new schools have been built in the Balanda’s villages, towns, and cities in over a century.  The absence of even the basic educational infrastructures has produced lower literacy rate in the Balanda Community.  The literacy rate for Balanda women is even lowest than for the entire community.

The problem s of education in the Balanda Community is the derivative reflections of the larger problems of education in the Sudan in general and Southern Sudan in particular.  One of the most incessant problems of the education has been and still is the complete absence of even the basic school buildings within which the very act of education is to take place.   The school buildings that are still standing and in use today in Southern Sudan were principally built by Catholics and Protestants Missionaries at the beginning of a twentieth century.  No new school buildings have been built in over a century.  In fact, this issue of the lack of school infrastructure holds true for other public sector infrastructures such as new hospitals, roads, bridges, telecommunication systems, mass transit systems to list a few examples.

Moreover, the school buildings that still remain have not been renovated at all in over a century.  The physical conditions of those buildings have so markedly deteriorated to the point that in some areas of the Balanda’s villages and towns such as Maringindo, Rafili, Baggeri, Bazia, Tambura, and Dam Zubier, the roofs have fallen off and only dilapidated broken walls remain standing.  In other areas such as Bussere and Mupoi, the buildings have fared better, but are still in need of essential renovation.

As the direct consequence of the absence of educational infrastructures, a new government policy and practice emerged in the early 1981 in which students in primary and intermediate schools were evicted from the existing school buildings to make room at first for secondary schools and later the university students.  For example, in 1982 students at Wau Intermediate School for Boys were evicted and their school converted into Wau Day Secondary School.  Those students evicted were transferred to Bussere Intermediate School.  This created over-crowd class rooms and overwhelmed teachers.  In 1993, Bussere Intermediate School for Boys, Wau Intermediate School for Girls, and Wau Day Secondary School were taken over by the Government of Sudan and turned into Bahr Ghazal University in Wau, Sudan.

The students from the former schools were once again forced out.  They in turn forced out students from several primary schools within the city. Other examples of this practice include Dilling Teachers Training Institute in Kordofan, Atar Secondary School in Upper Nile, Port Sudan Secondary School in Port Sudan, Kassala Secondary School in Kassala, and Khartoum Polytechnic Institute in Khartoum, which are now Dilling University, Upper Nile University, Port Sudan University, Kassala University, and Sudan University respectively.

In each case, rather than investing in constructing new buildings, the same existing buildings are simply reused.  All in all, at least fifteen new universities have been created in this manner.  These so called new universities amount to no more than three to four elementary or high school size buildings without library, sufficient class room space, science laboratories, and offices for the faculty and staff.  Over the same period, the quality of primary, intermediate, secondary, and university education in the Sudan has sharply declined to the point that graduates of universities in the Sudan these days are unable to compete academically outside Sudan.   The practice of confiscating existing buildings and turning them into so called new institutions continue unabated.  Solid brick and stone houses built during the colonial era are now being turned into new ministries.

It is in view of this difficult realization that the Balanda Community Association in the United States has decided to tackle the problem of education in the Sudan by focusing exclusively at the community level starting with the Balanda People and their Community.  In the Balanda Community, the enormous needs for the education and health have been deliberately neglected and ignored for over a century.  The association believes that addressing the larger problem of education in Sudan must start at the community level; and that any attempt to focus on the education must begin with an investment on new school buildings and making school supplies readily available in abundance in order to ensure delivery of high quality education to current and future generations.

The goal is, therefore, to build a twenty five (25) classrooms primary school to house one thousand students when the school is at full capacity in eleven years.  The association plans to start with six classes or two hundred and forty students (240) and increase the size of the school in terms of number of new students by two classes or eighty students (80) each year. This amounts to forty students per classroom, although the ultimate goal is to have smaller size classrooms with twenty five or less students per class in order to improve the learning environment, teacher-student ratio, and lessen the burdens on the teachers and school administrators.

In addition, the Association intend to address the issues of electric powers, teacher recruitment and training, women education, parent-teacher council (PTC), transportation, school supplies and equipment and propose tangible solutions to rectify those problems.  These are the problems which are undermining the ability of the Balanda and the entire South Sudanese community to effectively provide education as an essential service.  Resolution of these problems is, therefore, absolutely essential for providing the high quality education to the children in our community.

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