South Sudan: Refugee students shine in final exams

Randa Osman Al-Majalis (left) and Rebecca Makki (right), two of the top five students from Ajoung Thok awarded by the ministry. Photo: LWF/ A. Mwaura
Randa Osman Al-Majalis (left) and Rebecca Makki (right), two of the top five students from Ajoung Thok awarded by the ministry. Photo: LWF/ A. Mwaura

AJUONG THOK, South Sudan/ GENEVA, 5 July 2016 (LWI) – For the second year running, the performance of a school in Ajuong Thok refugee camp, South Sudan, in year-end primary exams has been exemplary.

The Lutheran World Federation (LWF) is implementes education and child protection for more than 37,000 children and youth in Ajuong Thok refugee camp, Unity state. The students are refugees from the Nuba mountains in Sudan. Many have missed school for several years. In additional to several primary and secondary schools, LWF has developed an accelerated learning program for older students to help them catch up on the education they missed due to the conflict.

Good results despite hardships

Many students in Ajuong Thok are highly motivated and despite their difficult circumstances use every opportunity to learn and study. Randa Osman Al-Majalis, the top girl in Panrieng State came to Ajuong Thok in 2013 with her father. When he died in 2015, she struggled alone in the harsh environment and faced a lot of challenges as she tried to balance school and house chores. “It was very difficult during that time because I was on my own but I was determined to study,” she says. “Class 7 was very hard.”

Her classmate Randa plans to join Soba secondary school in May and study medicine afterwards. She wants to specialize as a pediatrician since she has witnessed how vulnerable children are to disease. Many students aim to go to university and become doctors and teachers in their home country.

The schools in Ajuong Thok have had good examination results before. The year before, 93 percent of the refugee candidates passed the final primary exam. Ajuong Thok schools scored all top five positions, despite the fact that the camp more than doubled its size last year as more Sudanese fled the Kordofan region due to increased conflict.

The great news came following the official announcement of results by the State Ministry of Education in the new Ruweng State. The 2015 results were presented in a ceremony hosted by the Ministry of Education at the Ruweng State headquarters in Panrieng attended by ministers, government officials, LWF staff, teachers and students from Panrieng schools.

The ministry presented prizes for the best students, who also included five girls from Ajuong Thok refugee camp schools. Additionally, LWF organized a ceremony at the beginning of the month at Napata primary school in Ajuong Thok to award prizes to students who had performed especially well. Teachers, parents, students, community leaders, members of the refugee community and humanitarian workers gathered at Napata primary school to celebrate the news. The teachers could not hide their joy as they witnessed the fruits of their hard work when student after student walked forward to receive their awards.

It was very difficult during that time because I was on my own but I was determined to study.
Randa Osman Al-Majalis, top performing refugee student in Panrieng state

Key implementing partner

Present at the award ceremony were UNHCR Head of Jamjang sub-office Mubashir Khan, LWF South Sudan Country Representative Girma Gudina, UNHCR Community Services Officer Elsie Yaokumah, the LWF Ajuong Thok team and the Ajuong Thok Refugee camp chairman. “This is wonderful news. My big and heartfelt congratulations to the distinguished students, parents, teachers and to the LWF colleagues, who all worked hard with these children to achieve this distinction, therefore bringing this joyful moment for all of us,” Khan said.

LWF is a key education partner of UNHCR in South Sudan. Ajuong Thok Refugee camp hosts three primary schools and one secondary school. The primary eight class was the second cohort of students to sit the national examinations, normally coordinated by State Ministry of Education. In recognition of LWF’s role in the refugee education, the Ministry of Education approved two schools, Napata primary and Soba secondary as examination centers.

The schools in Ajuong Thok refugee camp are funded by UNHCR and ECHO Children of Peace, which helps children in conflict regions go to school safely and get support to deal with traumatic experiences. Many of the teachers trained by LWF are refugees themselves. The awards given to the students this year were sponsored by LWF and the Ministry of Education in the new Ruweng State.

Contribution by LWF South Sudan. Edited by LWF communications.