Sudan lies sandwiched between Egypt to the north, Chad to the West and Ethiopia to the east. From the chaos that engulfed this lovely part of Africa just north of Kenya and Uganda for so many years, war torn Southern Sudan is hopefully now turning from an ugly chrysalis into a jewel in Africa's crown.
What hope will emerge for her children now? Will they gather once again beneath trees that were their schools now that the guns have hopefully fallen silent? Will the promises of the western powers be realized this time, or will yet another emerging African nation bump down a rocky hill into ever-increasing mediocrity – in fact could Southern Sudanese School Education get any worse in war torn Southern Sudan?
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees has been working tirelessly to turn the tide on relentlessly deteriorating Schools in South Sudan and has begun rebuilding school premises. Their hope is not only to address the current situation but also meet the needs of more and more Southern Sudanese refugees streaming home to share the peace. Hopefully a beleaguered Education Minister will find salaries for the teachers now being trained while children wait for them – and hopefully those children will find work when their education is over and they rejoin society as adults. In the meantime, many parents cannot even afford to pay for uniforms and school fees, and there are few textbooks left.
Those of us who feel helpless in the face of such humanitarian disaster should take heart from the achievements of Achak Deng and Dave Eggers. Seven years ago Deng was a Southern Sudanese refugee in America with a story of the lost boys of his country to relate, while Eggers was an Atlanta writer searching for a ghost-writer's dream. Inspired by a friendship that extended far beyond the book that Barack Obama advised every White House aide to read, the two young men returned together to Southern Sudan to build a complete new school with funds they raised. With men and dreams like this, Southern Sudanese school education indeed has hope.