Happy beneficiaries of the renovation of a primary school in Akobo, undertaken by UNMISS engineering troops from South Korea. Photos: Mach Samuel/UNMISS
JONGLEI- All sectors of society are negatively affected when there is armed conflict, with education, and the children who should benefit from it, perhaps suffering the most.
Thanks to funding from the government of South Korea, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and its peacekeepers have been able to restore the Akobo Girls’ School to its former glory, much to the delight of pupils and teachers alike.
“It feels like a new school, it’s fantastic! It really makes me and my friends want to make the most of our studies,” said Nyawal Lul, with the young girl adding that she will remember and cherish the peacekeeping mission’s contribution for the rest of her life.
The refurbishing of the facilities came about after a request from community members, who were concerned that the school had not been safe and suitable for learning since the eight classrooms were badly damaged by the civil war that broke out in December 2013.
“We have been struggling to give our students the quality of education and the motivation to learn that they need and deserve. This renovation means the world to us, it makes it possible for us to go about our activities even when it rains a lot,” said teacher Deng Nyang.
Observing the sorry state of the Akobo Girls’ School, Colonel Park Jong Sim, Commander of the South Korean engineering company serving with UNMISS, spotted an opportunity to make a positive difference in the lives of those residing in the area. Fortunately for the keen female learners in town, the South Korean government agreed to fund the renovation project, and soon peacekeepers from the Asian country were hard at work.
“I hope the new Akobo Girls’ School will serve as a source of inspiration for South Sudan to design its future step by step. Let education enable national development and sustainable peace,” the Colonel said as the facilities were handed over to the community.
Geetha Pious, Head of the peacekeeping mission’s field office in Bor, praised the efforts made by the engineering troops.
“I am very proud of your contribution to the quality of education in Akobo, making students here valuable human resources for years to come. Every child has the right to education, and supporting this crucial sector is one important way for UNMISS to support the development of the country,” she said.
More than 4,800 students have graduated from Akobo Girls’ School since it opened in 2006. In recent years, the UN peacekeeping mission has supported the educational facility by handing over textbooks and other scholastic material to both pupils and teachers.
Currently, almost 1,900 girls are studying here, and if Akobo County Commissioner John Chuol Tot is right, they will have a big role to play in shaping their country.
“This [school renovation] will bring important change not only to the local community but also to South Sudan. Education will develop the future leaders of the country,” he affirmed.