In 2019, due to the efforts of GESS (Girls Education in South Sudan), UNICEF and others, attendance numbers are growing in schools across South Sudan, but there is still a long way to go. Enrollment in St Mark’s Orthodox School has reached over 600 pupils in the 2019 academic year, with half being girls aged 3 to 15. Each child receives a school uniform, a daily cooked meal and clean water. A balanced curriculum is being designed and implemented, while tireless gathering of resources is underway to maintain a safe environment and build a sustainable educational future.
The Central Equitorial African nation of South Sudan became independent in 2011 and since 2013 has been mired in civil war. A cease fire declared in October of 2018 has led to noticeable improvement on the ground.
In 2012, to address a desperate need, the Coptic Church, under the leadership of Bishop Elia, established the co-educational St Mark’s Orthodox School in the neighbourhood of Munuki on the outskirts of the capital city of Juba.
The school is situated within a secure compound, surrounded by 20 foot walls, steel gates and security guards. The building, itself, is a magnificent structure with electricity generated from eco-friendly solar panels and access to clean well water. There is a fully functional kitchen and toilet facilities.
Two new classrooms and additional toilets were added in 2018. More recently, an independent Kindergarten block was completed and ground has broken on a new Boys' Secondary School.
A Girls' Secondary School is soon to be built a short distance away and will eventually share its site with a new hospital.
According to a 2016 government census, 36% of primary school children in South Sudan have no access to toilet facilities. This is not the case at St Mark’s. We provide pupils with access to lavatory facilities with running water, which we found encourages attendance, especially for girls, who have a separate facility. The nursery also has its own toilets and wash-hand basins.
In February 2018, following visits to St Mark's, the UK based Friends of St Mark’s Juba was established to complement the ongoing efforts of the Coptic Church and their work with the school.
Most girls by the age of 13 are illiterate and ready to be married. Friends of St Mark’s Juba was created to help ensure the school makes a difference in the lives of all local children and their families by providing hands on educational support.
The school offers a sound curriculum, including English, Maths, Science and Social Studies, in accordance with South Sudanese guidelines. The government requires all children, whose first language is Arabic, be taught in English. This year, we have also engaged an Arabic teacher.
We are endeavouring to introduce an English phonics programme, while working to establish teacher training and staff support through continuing cooperation with GESS (Girls Education in South Sudan) and Mading & Mading Educational Consultants.
A highly professional teaching staff guided by a Senior leadership team are in place, with an experienced Director overseeing the day to day management of the school.
At present, St Mark’s is a Kindergarten and Primary School, however, we are hopeful that the new Secondary School facilities will be ready by 2020. St Mark's continues to grow from strength to strength.
Pupils learn numbers but have no counting aids. Counters, dice and dominoes are, therefore, in demand. Stationery, pencils, coloured pencils, pritt sticks, note pads, sharpeners, chalk and small rulers also top the list of needs.
Monetary donations help provide school fees for those less fortunate as well as access to more complex resources, such as computers and printers. Should you wish to make a monetary donation, please click the “Donate” button.
For donations of goods, monetary gifts greater than £1000, or for any other questions, please send us an email.
Friends of St Mark’s Juba are grateful for any support.
Friends of St Mark’s Juba