A unique place of learning

South Sudan is one of the most challenging countries in which the Jesuits work. Despite gaining independence in 2011, by 2013 a new civil war had broken out between the armed forces and the Nuer militias.

In the midst of this situation, Loyola Secondary School in Wau strives to continue providing a stable source of education in one of the country’s main rebel areas. The school was forced to close in 1984, just two years after opening, owing to the outbreak of war, and it was then occupied by the Sudanese army during the years that followed.

However, since its reopening in 2008 by the Jesuit province of East Africa, supported by Jesuit Missions, the school has seen a rapid increase in student numbers.

‘The quality of education is an important factor in breaking the cycle of poverty, and our hope is that the institute will provide South Sudan with leaders, men and women of tomorrow who are committed to serving their people with integrity and justice,’ says Fr Beatus Mauki SJ, headteacher of Loyola Secondary School (LSS).

In the last four years alone at least 50,000 people have died in South Sudan and thousands more have been forced to leave their homes and flee their country. Over 19,000 children have been recruited by the militias, and at least one school out of three has been damaged,
destroyed, occupied or closed. Many children are forced to look after their younger siblings, depriving them of educational opportunities. In this context, it is more important than ever for LSS to remain strong and present.

Fr Mauki SJ says, ‘Loyola Secondary School, which has 580 students, 35 teachers and 6 Jesuits, has managed to create a unique space where young people can coexist peacefully beyond their ethnic differences. The school serves as a sanctuary, bringing students together for studying and learning.’ The political and economic situation, ‘has left many children and young people vulnerable to famine and sickness. Every day students struggle to reach school.’ Over half of the students at LSS live in refugee camps and many of them are orphans.

Supported by local charities, the school has begun to offer scholarships to children who are unable to pay their fees. This ensures that more children are able to attend the school and that teachers are paid a substantial wage. They are also providing a nutritious breakfast after it was found that 70% of children were arriving without having eaten.

Below is a letter from one of the teachers at the school:

 

This article by Stephanie Beech, Communications Officer at Jesuit Missions, was first published on Jesuits & Friends issue 100read it online.

Please, consider donating to Jesuit Missions South Sudan Summer Appeal