Chinese-built school eases education burden of needy families in South Sudan

Updated: December 5, 2023 Source: Xinhua News Agency
fontLarger fontSmaller

JUBA, Dec. 4 (Xinhua) -- Needy families in Juba, South Sudan's capital, have since 2017 been able to enroll their children at a Chinese-built school located west of the capital due to its accessibility and affordable school fees.

Julia Juan Anania, a mother of four children who works as a cleaner at Jubek Model Martyrs Secondary School, said she wants all her children to enroll in this school due to the proximity of the school and affordable fees.

Financed by Sinopec Petroleum Construction Shengli Corporation and inaugurated in 2017 by the government of South Sudan, the school covers 2,200 square meters and comprises 16 classrooms that can accommodate about 1,000 students, with running water and 24-hour solar power. It is unique among local schools because of its Chinese architectural design.

"I want to enroll all my two kids who sat for the recent certificate of primary education to join Jubek Model Martyrs Secondary School because of the affordable fees, we pay 60,000 South Sudanese pounds (55 U.S. dollars) annually," said Anania, 50, a resident of Gudele suburb where the school is located, in an interview Monday.

Her 18-year-old son Emmanuel Arama Levi is enrolled in senior one at the school. Anania hopes the government opens a university in Gudele to provide affordable education for children from underprivileged families who cannot afford high tuition at the existing private and public universities in the country.

Grace Geri Nathaniel, 55, a mother of five children in Gudele who sells groceries adjacent to the school, said she enrolled her daughter in the school not only due to proximity but also quality education and services offered at the school. "I live very near to the school and my daughter just enrolled last year, this school is good, it is not like other schools, at this school, a child can continue with studies as you struggle to pay school fees," Geri said.

The Chinese company has also built two other schools -- one in Yapa and the China Friendship Secondary School in the Munuki suburb in Central Equatoria state.

Ustaz Swaka Lado Laki, head teacher of Jubek Model Martyrs Secondary School, for six years, said since 2017 they have graduated about four groups of students. The school initially started with about 600 students but the number has since risen due to the high demand among people from far areas of Juba.

"By the time the school opened, it was the only secondary school in this area, but now some private schools have sprung up in the area. It is cheaper that is why we are calling it free education because in other schools students pay 80,000 SSP (75 dollars) per term and then for us, our students pay 55 dollars annually," Lado said. "This is the youngest government-run secondary school, so students who passed through this school are either now employed or still pursuing their university education."

Lado said that the Chinese company that built the school has often come back to fix things that need repair such as cracks in the walls and painting of the school, noting that Chinese language programs could be introduced in this school because they have enough space to accommodate such programs.

Editor: Yang Yifan