SUDAN: Salesian Missionaries Provide Education to More Than 1,000 Students in Primary and Technical Education
(MissionNewsire) A primary school in Khartoum, the capital and second largest city of Sudan, operated by Salesian Sisters from the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians, provides education and social development services to 400 children. Nearly 80 percent of the students in the school are victims of the war in South Sudan. Many are deeply wounded, scared, sick and above all very hungry. The Salesian Sisters provide the students shelter, nutritious meals and education.
“Every child has a uniform and a hot meal every day, and the sick children are taken to the doctor,” says Sr. Teresa Roszkowska of the Daughters of Mary Help of Christians. “Visits are made to families living in very difficult conditions, in particular to young mothers. Some very poor families live close to our community, and we help them daily with supplies and food to eat.”
The school provides students a sense of normalcy and structure. Before classes begin the children have 15 minutes of gymnastics set to music. The exercises help the children to relax and calm down before classes. On Fridays and Sundays more than 300 children attend the youth center attached to the school, where children play games, watch a movie or just enjoy themselves with their peers. Some bathe and others wash their clothes, because where they live there is no water. At the end, youth are provided biscuits, sweets, soap or whatever other supplies that have been donated.
Once children finish the primary school, they are able to access secondary and technical training at the Salesian-run St. Joseph Technical School in Khartoum, which has been training poor and internally displaced youth since 1986. Shortly after its opening, enrollment at the school reached close to 900 students. Today, enrollment is just over 650 students and more than 50 are young offenders from local prisons working toward a second chance in life.
“Gaining an education can provide new opportunities young people never even imagined were possible,” says Father Mark Hyde, executive director of Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco. “It’s more than just classroom training. Students have access to life skills that help them make better decisions and aid in later employment.”
Students at St. Joseph’s Technical School can choose from a range of programs including carpentry, electronics, auto mechanics and the operation of a printing press. Included in the programs are health services and food assistance. Career counseling and job placement services are also offered once students complete their studies.
“All youth deserve a chance at a better life,” adds Fr. Hyde. “At St. Joseph’s Technical School we help youth take responsibility for their own lives by providing them the skills to find and keep a job that will support themselves and help their communities.”
The Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world, and according to UNICEF, has close to 46 percent of its population living in poverty. Low-incomes and food deficiencies are the norm and ongoing violence and civil unrest exacerbate already harsh conditions. Despite these conditions, more youth are in school today than ever before with school attendance up to 73 percent compared to 68 percent in 2008. There remain however, some 3.2 million children between the ages of six and 16 out of school. The rate of out of school children is highest among nomadic populations, those living in rural areas and in the poorest households.
School enrollment and retention is affected by weak curriculum in Sudanese schools, inadequate training of teachers (41 percent are untrained, according to UNICEF) and inadequate educational materials for students. Ongoing conflict and the high cost of education, particularly in rural areas where parents have to pay school fees, also affect enrollment rates. To meet the needs of the millions of out-of-school youth, Salesian missionaries in the Sudan work to educate poor youth and provide them a path out of poverty.
UNICEF – Sudan Statistics