This morning, Matthew Rycroft CBE – the Permanent Secretary at the Department for International Development (DFID) – visited Juba Day Secondary School to witness the GESS package of support to the school, as well as the continued need for support to South Sudan’s education sector.
He was greeted by the long-serving Head Teacher, George Kenyi; GESS Team Leader, Akuja de Garang; GESS State Anchor Team Leader for former Central Equatoria State, Juliuos Yuga; and the Head Boy and acting Head Girl.
The school receives many students. Input of enrolment data is still underway, but in 2017 the school had over 1,300 pupils. The student to teacher ratio often reaches 80:1, which is a big concern of the Head Teacher who admits that this is not conducive to learning.
The school has suffered greatly from numerous break-ins during and after the July, 2016 conflict. The Capitation Grants that the school received in 2016 and 2017 have helped to replace some of these items, but there are far-reaching needs. In 2017, the school received a Capitation Grant of 357,000 South Sudanese Pounds, using this to construct a latrine for girls and to purchase teaching and learning materials and stationary. The Head Teacher admitted that, although they are very grateful for the money as it is the only grant they receive, with prices rising almost on a daily basis and the necessary repair work, there is always need for more.
The school is receiving School Governance training, as well as ongoing school supervision activities with the Payam Education Supervisor (a Payam is the second-lowest administrative division, below Counties). The Board of Governors (BoG – a variation of the traditional Parents-Teacher Association to include the Head Girl and Head Boy) was initiated and trained by GESS’ County Education Officer in areas of school governance and effective school management. The BoG is in charge of managing the Capitation Grant money – identifying key areas of need in the school through consultation with teachers and students. The Head Boy, George, told the Permanent Secretary that they air their fellow students’ concerns during BoG meetings. Often, students are not confident enough to relay their concerns directly to teachers, so this medium is very effective.
In 2016, 387 girls received a Cash Transfer. Whilst in 2017, 436 girls received the cash grant. Grace (above) has received the money for the past two years and stated that, without this, she would not have been able to attend school. She is making every effort to attend school on a daily basis; it is her priority as she wants to be a doctor, maybe even the President of the Republic of South Sudan! She exclaimed, “Thanks to you for this support! Without it, most of us would not have reached senior (school).”