News from Rumbek
School reopens in challenging and uncertain times
South Sudan, like every country in the world, was affected by the outbreak of Covid-19. The pandemic threatened to reverse educational progress in this country that already has a low literacy rate. Access to education, especially for girls is difficult because they are at risks for forced marriage and teenage pregnancy.
When schools were closed in March due to Covid-19, girls were very worried about their future because most girls feel safe and protected at school. This is because schools reduce their risk of forced marriages and teenage pregnancies.
In September, the Council of Ministers announced the reopening of schools for candidates for the national and state examinations – those in Primary 8 and Senior 4, and universities across the country. This brought relief to many as they saw hope after 6 months of being out of school.
Many students, especially the examination candidates, were happy with the decision made by the Council of Ministers. But this also meant that more precautions needed to be carried out in all the learning institutions to combat COVID-19.
Loreto Rumbek, the only girls’ boarding school in Lakes State, started welcoming back the candidates’ class to the compound on the 28th September. Loreto Primary also re-opened on the same day. However, classes did not start right away as more preparation was needed to create enough space to implement the precautions against the spread of Covid-19.
Mr. Yuga Charles, the headteacher of Loreto Girls Secondary School expressed his gratitude and explained the precautions being taken,
“I am very happy that the schools have reopened for the candidates’ class although the rest of the classes are likely to miss a lot. The school is back to life after 6 months of closure and we thank the Minister of Education for allowing the schools to reopen for the candidates. On the 28th September, we welcomed back the students to do internal self-quarantine for 2 weeks. This is because our students come from different parts of the country. The classes officially began on 12th October although not all the students reported on the same day, others that reported late are allowed to quarantine in a separate dormitory and join the classes later – after 2 weeks.”
Mr. Yuga further added,
Our internal measures against Covid-19 involve dividing the class into 4 smaller groups to ensure proper social distancing, distributing cloth masks to all the students, and providing hand washing facilities for the smaller groups.
The students are also separated in the dormitories to create enough space for them, and an isolation house for the new arrivals is also kept in a separate dorm.”
Following the communication from the Minister of Education that the number of classes should be increased, Loreto Rumbek decided to change the school timetable and introduced afternoon classes from 2:30 to 4:00pm.
Teresa Akudid, a student, is optimistic about the introduction of afternoon classes, “The afternoon lessons have no negative effect on our studies in that they have helped some us who could not do classwork without getting more explanation from teachers in order to understand better by giving us enough time to ask teachers what we didn’t understand well in previous lessons. I believe there are no challenges that we are currently facing because this was the best decision ever made by the school administration. With all this we shall be able to cover the topics faster than before hence giving us time to revise on our own for the forthcoming exams.”
The candidates are likely to sit for their national exams in February 2021 for the Primary 8 class and March 2021 for the Senior 4 class. We wish our candidates the best of luck in their upcoming exams and pray for them in this hard time.