Students’ Demands Handwashing Services amid COVID-19

The primary eight candidates in Padaar Comboni School are demanding handwashing materials installation.  Inaccessibility of health prevention materials that include facemask, soaps, and sanitizers for disinfection has caused anxiety among the candidates.

The students were concerned about the possibility of contracting coronavirus due to the unavailability of health facilities. Students claimed they are attending classes without handwashing that include visitors coming to school.

Seventy-five students who were said coming from different areas are attending classes in one classroom without respecting social distancing.

In September, the national ministry of education ordered the reopening of schools and enforced general hygiene and safety rules to be observed.

“In our School St. Daniel Comboni, we are lacking hand washing containers that will protect us from contracting Covid-19. We also lack benches, and sharing the few we had is against current health guidelines regarding coronavirus preventions,”

“We wanted social distance to be put in place by ensuring that enough benches are provided. Education partners and school administration should take our concerns seriously,’’

School headmaster Isaac Garang admitted challenges. He said his office is engaging education partners to provide the school with COVID-19 equipment. In contrast, he urged the Primary eight candidates to be patient as the school administration finds alternative solutions to address an issue.

“Our benches are still in Rumbek because floodwater has cut off the road linking Rumbek and Yirol. Now learners do come with their chairs during teaching hours”  

Education official said the institution lack support from its partners “So, the school is lacking benches. There is no assistance from Education partners operating here. The candidates are seventy-five, and if we divided them into two classes, there are no teachers to teach them. So that is the challenge facing us in our school,’’

A National NGO known as Charity Empowerment Foundation distributed handwashing containers to twelve schools in Lakes State in September.

Candidates with no birth certificates risk to miss exam.

Primary and Secondary school candidates in Northern Bahr El Ghazal have no birth certificate, starting to worry about missing the final national examination registration dateline. The birth certificates are a mandatory requirement for all candidates, according to the Ministry of Education.

The fear emerged among the students toward the end of the registration dateline. Students say that getting a birth certificate is a challenge at Aweil’s main hospital, while registration at schools will end on Tuesday 10 November 2020.

They call on the state Ministry of Education and Administration of Aweil Civil Hospital to help them on the matter.

” I have spent one week here coming to the hospital, and I have yet received my birth certificate. We are told to come tomorrow since last week, while the deadline for registration is today, [Tuesday, Nov 10]

“We need the Ministry of education to extend the registration deadline, it, is tomorrow and we still don’t have birth certificates which we have started the process but still waiting for them.”

“Forms are not here at the hospital, and they say they will be brought from juba, which we don’t know when, but we come to check daily. The Ministry should find a solution for us as the deadline clocks tomorrow.”

 The Director-General in the Education Ministry, Cezar Atem Biajo, says they are aware of the challenge. Atem claimed he advised the school administration to register candidates, and their documents will be demanded later.

Primary candidates are expected to sit for their final exam in February next year.

25 Teachers to Receive Cash Incentives in Eastern Equatoria

At least 25 teachers working for the government public primary schools in Kapoeta South county, Eastern Equatoria are expected to received teaching incentive.

Duku Derick is the program manager for disaster emergency committee (DEC) project implemented by Plan international, an international NGO. He told Singaita FM on Wednesday that the aimed of giving incentive is to help motivate teachers so that they continue to work effectively.

He said each teachers will be paid 6,550 South Sudanese pounds and the project will continue for a duration of 6 months.

Derick said they are giving support as an incentive and not like salaries to teachers who will be involved in this alternative education process.

“This money is just given to help them to support their families I know it is a small amount we feel it is good to motivate teachers by giving some small motivation in that form” said Derick.

He said the disaster emergency committee is funded by UK in response to the emergency education program amid COVID 19 pandemic.

Mr. Ayoma Sarafin is the acting director general at the  ministry of education in Eastern Equatoria state. He said they have not been informed about the payment of incentive to teachers in Kapoeta. Saying that he hope the agency will present their plan to the state  ministry of education to see how this project will be implemented.

Sarafin called upon the partners NGOs working in the state to first get an introductory letter from the national ministry of education in case of any support to teachers.

“Any organization that comes to help we are grateful that is a very good support to our education sector, any organization that comes is supposed to come with letter from the national ministry of Education MOGEI” said Sarafin.

Plan International refuted the claims that government not aware of its support to Education in Kapoeta. It said the project is coordinated between National Ministry with County Education authority.

Kapoeta: Kuleu Lights Academy postpone school opening.

The Kuleu Lights Academy’s primary administration in Kapoeta, Eastern Equatoria has postponed school reopening this week for standard eight candidates over financial constraints. The school administration has rejected the operational burden without cash to pay teachers.

Students saw the postponement of school reopening as a worse move that will affect over 30 candidates who will risk missing classes before they sit their final national exam in December 2020.

Two weeks ago, the ministry of education announced the reopening of schools across the country. In March, the government has closed down all schools due to the coronavirus outbreak that has affected global activities.

The school director said they needed money to pay teachers and institution operations. Now learners are worried about their future to catch up with lessons. The administration claimed they had made an arrangement of increasing school fees to 27,000 pounds this year, but parents disagreed.

Pastor James Lokuuda confirmed that they had taken a unanimous decision. The school will remain close this year until their demands are met. He urged the candidates to get enrolled in other schools.

“We have decided we postpone the opening of the school to next year because we cannot afford it. There is no money to pay the teachers or even feed them the normal breakfast and lunch that they get from the school. We can’t do that. And also we may recommend them because now they are not coming. If anyone who wanted their child to get into school this year, they can take them to Kotome primary because Kotome is also a good school or even to Kapoeta day”.

Parents were dismayed by the administration’s decision. They suggested the school be open and pay the school fees slowly.

“This is wrong because the schools were declared to reopen. If they wanted money to be paid more than twenty, now if these students will remain home, they will get spoils. Many of them will enter the markets; others will become drunkards. Lokkuda cannot decide this, let him call parents to come for a meeting. Let him collect this money slowly up to next year because this is the same year that these learners paid. Parents have just started collecting little money for this pupil to return to school”.

The students urge the school’s administration to calls for a general meeting between parents, teachers, and students.

“We don’t know the problem why they close, and they heard that they add a lot of fees and parents has to come parent refuses to go to school because of the money that has been added that why the school is close, they need to call the parent and the head of the school he should help school children.

The UN supports reopening of schools despite rising COVID-19 cases

UN children agency UNICEF and UNESCO have welcomed the government decision to reopen schools in South Sudan

The reopening is expected to happen in phases 1 and 2 were the candidate classes, Primary 8 and Senior 4, and will start the first week of October 2020, according to the statement the UN agencies released. Phase 2 includes all schools and grades and will coincide with the start of the academic year in February 2021.

The government passed a resolution during the council of Minister last week. The schools have been closed since March this year due to COVID-19.

The UN children agency said 2 million children keep out of school. This comes on top of the 2.2 million children out of school before the pandemic hit South Sudan.

UNICEF and UNESCO stated that Scientific evidence shows children are not super-spreaders of COVID-19 and are the least affected by it in the region, with a mere 2.5 percent of COVID-19 cases among children of school-going age (5-18 years, WHO). “At the same time, we have seen growing evidence of the negative impact closed classrooms have had on children, including abuse, exploitation, child marriage, and early pregnancies”. Both organizations also said children are safer inside the school walls than outside.

“This is a great day for children in South Sudan who can soon resume their learning and continue planning for their future,” said Mohamed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF South Sudan Representative. “The last seven months have been a huge blow for learning but also for protecting children from abuse and exploitation; therefore, we are really pleased with the Government’s decision to reopen schools.”

The UN agencies unveil a plan to work with the Ministry of General Education and Instruction for a safe reopening of schools. The plan includes improved water provision to schools, repair of water infrastructure, soap distribution, hand washing stations, and sanitary kits.

According to the statement, students and the teachers will get free washable face masks and social mobilization will be increased to raise awareness on the reopening of schools and encouraging parents to send their children to school.

UNESCO Representative in South Sudan Mr. Julius Banda said in the statement that the longer children stay out of school, the harder it is to get them back to the classrooms. “We don’t have a school day to lose, the children have already lost so many understand that parents might be nervous, but I urge all caregivers to trust that their children are safer at school. I know you want what is best for your children, and right now that is sending them back to schoo/,”Banda said.

The education reopening plan expects to cost 16.4 million US dollars. The UN said only USD 7 million is available through the Global Partnership for Education.

UNICEF and UNESCO are urging donors and partners to step forward to support the reopening of schools in South Sudan.

South Sudan confirmed 2,660 case, includes 1,438 recovered and 49 death since April this year.