JRS began work in Lobone, South Sudan in 2001 in response to the movement of internally displaced persons (IDPs) due to the two-decade long civil war. The project gradually expanded and shifted focus to help rebuild the lives of returnees as many IDPs returned home and the Acholi people, the original residents of Lobone, started to repatriate in 2008.
Insecurity and conflict delayed development in Lobone and destroyed infrastructure where basic social services were lacking. JRS identified education as an unmet need and a route to development and stability. Pastoral work and peace building were also identified as areas where support could be provided.
Since the beginning of 2012, the project has provided extensive educational support at 18 schools. This assistance also included the provision of textbooks and scholastic materials; the promotion of education for girls; and the construction and renovation school buildings.
With teacher training at the heart of the programme, JRS seeks to ensure the provision of quality education with a particular focus on girls and groups in vulnerable circumstances. Teachers are supported to undertake diplomas in secondary teaching at accredited institutions in Uganda to ensure the best quality teaching. The recently published 2011 South Sudan Certificate in Secondary Education (SSCSE) results revealed excellent successes, with the top performing candidate hailing from JRS-supported Magwi Secondary School in Lobone.
Adults are trained in literacy and vocational skills, and community leaders, mediators and teachers in peace building and reconciliation, with the establishment of peace clubs to promote peaceful co-existence and conflict resolution.
JRS also contributes to the improvement of religious education and community development in the parishes of the Catholic Diocese of Torit in Lobone, providing pastoral care and accompaniment through the administration of sacraments, home visits, training of catechists and chapel counsellors, construction of chapels, and support for church groups. In addition, agricultural support is also provided, including the introduction of ox ploughing (helping communities move from subsistence to commercial farming), beekeeping and animal husbandry.
By the end of 2012, JRS will have closed the project in Lobone after 11 successful years, and the schools will be transferred to the local council. Hopefully, the JRS legacy of educational and peace-building support will ensure Lobone residents continue to develop and foster long-term peace. JRS has been able to support more than 5,500 people in Lobone in 2011.
The project is currently funded by the Spanish Agency for International Development (AECID), and US Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration (PRM).
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Eastern Africa is one of 10 geographic regions of the Jesuit Refugee Service, an international Catholic organisation founded by the Society of Jesus.
In eastern Africa JRS is currently implementing 13 projects in Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda, reaching out to over 105,000 refugees, internally displaced persons and returnees. JRS Eastern Africa provides education, psychosocial support, pastoral care, peace-education, livelihoods services and emergency relief and is involved in human rights protection and advocacy activities on different levels.
Altogether, there are over eight million refugees and internally displaced persons in the whole region, including Somalia.
JRS started working in Africa in the early 1980s. One of the earliest commitments was in Ethiopia, providing food, shelter and medical aid to thousands of people displaced within their own country by war and famine.
In the early 1990s the JRS Eastern Africa region was established with the regional office based in Nairobi, Kenya.
In 1992 one of the biggest and longest serving JRS projects was set up in Adjumani, northern Uganda, assisting Sudanese refugees mainly through education and pastoral care. It was closed in 2008, after 75 schools were handed over to the government and most of the refugees were repatriated to Southern Sudan, now helping to rebuild their country, with the skills they gained during their exile in Adjumani.
Today, JRS's biggest operations in eastern Africa are in Southern Sudan, providing support in education, peace-building and pastoral accompaniment.
South Sudan: education as a tool of development and peace
Lobone, 15 September 2011 – Education is an essential tool to eradicate poverty, reduce child mortality, and curb population growth, said JRS South Sudan Project Director in Lobone, Lam Leone Ferem, speaking on 8 September, the forty-fifth anniversary of International Literacy Day.
South Sudan: teachers empowered to help other teachers
Lobone, 15 September 2011 – Following a three-day workshop on classroom management training, seven teachers in the South Sudanese Lobone district have begun assisting their fellow colleagues.
South Sudan: Promoting education as a tool of development and peace
Lobone,8 September 2011 – Every year on September 8 since 1965,the world commemorates International Literacy Day to draw attention to the importance of education as a fundamental human right,a tool for personal empowerment and a means for development.
South Sudan: Teachers empowered to help other teachers
Lobone, 29 August 2011 – Seven teachers from three community-run secondary schools in Lobone, South Sudan, have acquired sufficient knowledge to help their fellow teachers with lesson preparation, observation, presentation and efficient classroom communication after participating in a three day workshop.
Sudan: peace through education
Washington DC, 30 August 2010 – JRS has urged the governments of Sudan and Southern Sudan to commit themselves to a non-violent resolution of their differences, regardless of the outcome of the referendum on independence in January 2012. Moreover, JRS has called on the international community to sustain its support for the peace agreement.
Southern Sudan: JRS donates three pairs of oxen and oxen ploughs to local communities
Lobone, 30 July 2010 – Between April and June 2010 JRS has donated a pair of oxen and an ox plough to each of three Catholic communities near Lobone, Southern Sudan to help generate income for their members.
Sudan: head teachers and county supervisors receive training
Juba, 28 July 2010 – While school administration has slowly improved, too many teachers still lack the pedagogic know-how to help their more junior colleagues. Five years after the end of the two-decade long period, most teaching and administrative staff have only received minimal training.
Sudan: oxen and ploughs help communities become self-sufficient
Lobone, 30 July 2010 – With the donation of two oxen and a plough each to three communities near Lobone district (payam), JRS has taken small, but important steps to promote sustainable development in Southern Sudan. In the last four months, the oxen have begun generating a living for the members of three Catholic chapels.
Sudan: new school opens in Lobone
Lobone (Sudan), 29 May 2010 – Last month, JRS handed over a newly constructed primary school to the community of Palwar in Lobone sub-county, Southern Sudan. Approximately 1,500 people were present at the April 30 ceremony.
Southern Sudan: JRS hands over new primary school to local community
Lobone, 30 April 2010 – On April 30, 2010 JRS handed over a newly constructed primary school to the community of Palwar in Lobone sub-county, Southern Sudan. Around 1,500 people were present at the handing over ceremony.
Southern Sudan: Campaign to highlight importance of education
Lobone, 26 March 2010 — Between January 18 and February 2, 2010 the JRS team in Lobone, Southern Sudan carried out a campaign in order to create awareness about the importance of education.
For twelve days, JRS staff members held meetings with seven communities in Lobone, Parjok and Magwi Sub-counties, aiming to increase school enrollment, boost girls’ education and intensify the collaboration with the local education officials and community leaders.
Southern Sudan: Team reflects on JRS mission
Lobone, 11 February 2010 – JRS staff members in Lobone, Southern Sudan, gathered for a day of retreat and reflection, inspired by the JRS document “Sent to the frontiers on a mission of reconciliation.” Issued in 2009, this paper defines the identity and mission of JRS in light of the 35th General Congregation of the Jesuits.
Southern Sudan: JRS hands over new primary school in Lerwa
Lobone, 19 March 2010 — 2010 JRS handed over a newly constructed primary school to the community of Lerwa, Magwi County, Southern Sudan in March. Almost 700 people attended the ceremony.
Southern Sudan: First ever visit to previously inaccessible schools
Lobone, 1 February 2010 — Four JRS staff members for the first time went on a challenging 15km hike to visit two JRS supported schools that had never been visited before, located in the mountains around Lobone in early February.
Southern Sudan: JRS Lobone trains 58 teachers
Lobone, 11 September 2009 — JRS Lobone recently conducted eight in-service training workshops for 58 teachers teaching at primary, secondary, nursery and adult literacy education level in two different counties. Participants were trained by external facilitators from Uganda. Due to poor education opportunities for women and persisting cultural barriers, only nine participants were female teachers.
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