Improving Literacy in South Sudan In war-torn South Sudan, women and girls often walk miles to wells. Then they wait in long lines for hours before carrying a heavy jug back to their families. The essential task leaves little time for school. The pressing daily need to collect water has disastrous consequences. South Sudan has the lowest female literacy rate in the world. Not surprisingly, it also has the world’s highest maternal mortality rate. Research by UNICEF shows a strong relationship between a mother’s education and the health of her children. In South Sudan, girls are more likely to die of pregnancy complications than they are to complete primary education. One in ten children dies before the age of five. Lions and LCIF are supporting a creative, practical solution to South Sudan’s literacy challenges. LCIF awarded a Core 4 grant to Literacy at the Well (LATW). The nonprofit uses the time spent waiting in line to teach women and girls how to read and write. Those who learn at the well can then take the lessons home to their families. LATW recruits, trains and hires local teachers to lead the program. Established in the United States, LATW has been operating in Northern Bahr el Ghazal in South Sudan since 2008. LCIF’s funds are supporting the ever increasing demand for literacy programming in Aweil, the most heavily populated city in Northern Bahr el Ghazal. Literacy at the Well teaches women and children to read while they wait in long lines at community water wells LATW’s Aweil Women’s Leadership Center provides education for more than 1,000 women and girls each week. The center is used not only to teach reading, writing and English but also to train future instructors and to provide literacy instruction for community groups like police and health workers. The challenges in South Sudan are immense. Located in East-Central Africa, it has been described as “the world’s most failed state.” Decades of war in Sudan destroyed the area’s infrastructure. Only a handful of regions have running water, electricity, clinics, schools or paved roads. The nation gained its independence in 2011. South Sudan’s peace deal, signed in August 2015, was supposed to end the country’s latest civil war that began in December 2013 and killed tens of thousands. But the agreement was never fully implemented, and as of press time more fighting was taking place. The dire conditions make the Lions’ efforts even more critical. Raising the nation’s literacy rate can lead to economic growth and serve as a cornerstone of democracy. Families that can read are healthier, less vulnerable to oppression, more likely to succeed and more able to help others in their community. Learn more about the life-changing work of your Foundation at lcif.org.
Published by International Association of Lions Clubs . View All Articles.
This page can be found at http://digital.lionmagazine.org/article/Foundation+Impact/2647723/361278/article.html.