February 12, 2013

Global Notebook: Incredible Opportunities in South Sudan

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On the heels of the Ethiopian Roundtable on Christian education, EduDeo Ministries Executive Director Hank de Jong and Hamilton-based freelance videographer Ryan Geleynse, witnessing the growing hunger for Christian education in Africa, documented Walking Together teacher training efforts in South Sudan over the past two days.

Having recently celebrated the first anniversary of independence, the world’s youngest country is in a state of transition and reconstruction, providing EduDeo Ministries with a key opportunity to promote Christ-centred education as a means of Gospel transformation.

“This region of the world has experienced devastating, violence, pain and suffering over the past twenty years,” Hank noted.

“The civil war in Sudan wreaked havoc across the country resulting in genocide, displacement of entire populations and orphaned children. The statistics are still unfavourable: one in four children is malnourished; unemployment rates remain at 80-90 percent and many communities lack access to education and heathcare. Yet there is hope.  The people of South Sudan are resilient and determined.  The South Sudanese church is strong and the government is eager to assist the church in its mission of spiritual and social reconciliation.”

A key project in partnership with Christian Horizons Global (CH-Global), EduDeo Ministries has been involved in a number of Walking Together initiatives in South Sudan.

There are 420 schools and 130,000 students in Central Equatorial State alone and many local educators are interested in Biblically-based teacher training,” Hank noted.

“EduDeo Ministries is working hard to ensure all 3,500 teachers in Central Equatorial State are equipped to teach from a Christ-centred perspective.  A key ‘Walking Together’ initiative, the interest in EduDeo Ministries’ ‘Train the Trainer’ program is overwhelming.”

“It has been heart-wrenching to hear the stories of trauma this country has endured,” Hank lamented.

“At the same time, the people are hospitable and ready to turn the page for a brighter future.  We are excited the South Sudanese government is partnering with us to advance Christ-centred education in this vulnerable nation.  There is a sense of urgency.  We need to capture the hearts and minds of these young students with the living Word of God.”

Hank noted a number of current challenges in South Sudan’s schools.

“One of the teachers I spoke to expressed concern with the child soldier mentality of many students.  Many students don’t know of another way of life except war.  This has caused tremendous challenges within the school setting.  The training offered by EduDeo Ministries has been effective in helping teachers view each child as an image bearer of God. Treating children as God’s image bearers has dramatically altered the way discipline is carried out in the schools and greatly improved the classroom experience.”

“A math and science teacher, Patrick, 20, often teaches students who are older than him,” Hank noted.

“Because of the civil war and a lack of education, it is not uncommon to see fifteen year-old students in the same class as seven or eight year old students.”

A first-hand witness to South Sudan’s plight, Hank noted the urgency and importance of bringing Christ-centred education to South Sudan’s children.

“The need is urgent.  We are blessed with an opportunity to shape the hearts and minds of a generation and a country!  We need to seize the current opportunity with the assistance of partner organizations working on the ground and with the partnership of the South Sudanese government.  We urge our support community to pray and respond to the plight of children of South Sudan!  

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