Earlier this year, to prepare for the new academic year, Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) held a nine-day refresher training in Juba for School Officers. The training was on different elements of school governance and how School Officers can better support School Management Committees (SMCs – primary school management bodies) and Board of Governors (BoGs – Secondary School Management bodies) to effectively manage schools.
Over 90 GESS School Officers are based in the ten(10) states and administrative areas of South Sudan with GESS’ implementing partners, known as State Anchors. GESS School Officers work with SMCs and BoGs in schools to train them in different areas of effective school management, including assisting schools to qualify for GESS Capitation Grants; supporting schools in accounting for received Capitation Grants; supporting schools to have appropriate school development plans and budgets; and how to fill out the pupil admission registers.
GESS continues to train management bodies as part of its quality education activities, which aim to improve access to learning opportunities and the quality of education in primary and secondary schools.
When management bodies are trained, they can set their priorities for development, effectively responding to their own needs. Mabok Rual Primary School in Gogrial West is a shining example of this.
The school is run by the community and is one of 14 schools selected by the GESS School Officer to benefit from school governance training.
Kuol Mawien is the current Chairperson of Mabok Rual Primary School’s SMC – a sixty-one-year-old father of six children. He is a farmer and a respected elder in the community. At the time of the election of SMC members, Kuol was not interested as he was heavily engaged in community issues, and he did not have time to attend the SMC meetings regularly. He was later encouraged by community members who believed that he could effectively lead the development of the school.
“When I first got involved with SMC, I didn’t understand my role and responsibilities. I thought supporting schools entirely belongs to the Government and NGOs. Our only responsibility is to send children to school. But after receiving the SMC training, it has opened my eyes and helped me understand what it is that we as parents can do for our children’s school,” Kuol said.
During the training, the SMC members acquired skills in funds mobilisation, ‘Taking responsibility for the school’ and ‘Activating and mobilising the SMC/BoG’.
Before the SMC training in Mabok Rual Primary, the children were learning under trees, and whenever it rained the children had to run to their respective homes for shelters.
Kuol and his members approached the community leaders, prominent citizens of Gogrial Payam, and the Government requesting them to contribute either cash or in-kind for the construction of classrooms for their children. To set a good example, Kuol donated a bull to be sold as his contribution to the construction of a new classroom. “It was a great experience for us as SMC of Mabok Rual Primary School, and we were very excited to give back to the community,” Kuol said.
After a long struggle with a lot of empty promises and resistance from some community members, the school was able to construct four permanent classrooms.
Through his time in the SMC, Kuol now understands the importance of education, the roles of different education stakeholders in education, setting priorities for the schools, supporting inclusive education, and support of girls to complete their education.
Four classrooms were permanently built after the training on funds mobilisation.
When the School Officer asked Kuol what advice he would give to other SMC members who may want to follow in his footsteps, he said, “Don’t give up! When we first started mobilising funds there were so many obstacles. Some people discouraged us, asking where will we get the huge money from? I almost got discouraged, but the focus was to put up a semi-permanent structure so that their kids are safe from the rain. It’s all about the kids at school. When you see them happy, it makes us happy too as the parents.”
The School Governance training has brought a lot of changes in various schools in Warrap and Abyei Administrative Area. Other SMCs and BoGs are closely following the example set by Mabok Rual Primary School. Acting as facilitators and enablers, school management bodies are starting to realise that they can reap the widespread benefits of an empowered school community.
Categorised in: Uncategorised