It was jubilation at Supri Training Centre in Juba on the 25th of January 2019 when 114 refugee students (90 male and 14 female) graduated after successful completion of a 6-month intensive vocational skills and numeracy and literacy training programme. The training was offered by the South Sudan programme of Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) in partnership with South Sudan People’s Organization and Supri Training Centre.
The graduation was graced by the National Director of Education Kur Puenyi who was also the Guest of Honour, Director for Quality Education Jubek State Peter Morbek , AAH-I South Sudan Country Director and representatives from UNESCO, UNHCR and its partner organizations and other stakeholders. The day came at a time when the country has high hopes for long term peace following the signing of the peace agreement. Peace will enable the South Sudanese community to start rebuilding their lives and as such the demand for technical skills is expected to rise. Echoing the same, the AAH SS Acting Country Director Richard Ofwono emphasized the need for the graduates to put to practice their acquired skills as it is only practice that makes perfect.
Besides certificates, auto-mechanics graduates also received mechanical toolkits while tailoring graduates received a kit comprising a heavy-duty sewing machine, fabric, scissors and assorted thread. “The situation in Juba is hard and it is very difficult to find a job. Now that I am a trained motor mechanic, I have a better chance of getting a job since I have a skill to offer to market,” said Rebecca Andrew, who graduated with a certificate in auto-mechanics. Rebecca was the only female student in a class of 10. “I plan to open a small workshop to fix vehicles. I know I will need other tools and equipment, but this is a very good start. I will grow from where AAH-I has taken me,” said graduate Elia Duku Geofrey.
For Sudanese refugees who grew up in an Arab speaking environment, relocating into South Sudan, which recognizes English as the official language comes with complications. Through this project, AAH-I in partnership with the Supri Training Centre engaged 73 Arabic-speaking refugees in a 6-month English literacy training programme. “Though a proportion of the population speak some classic Arabic, it has been difficult for me to engage with English speakers. Enrolling for language studies was necessary to overcome communication limitations. Now I fit better in the South Sudanese society. This skill will indeed create new opportunities for me,” said Abdllazim Ahmed, who graduated with an English beginner’s certificate.
The vocational and language skills training are part of the Livelihoods, Environment and Energy Conservation project targeting the refugee population in Gorom and Juba. The project is funded by UNHCR. The specific objectives are to build self-reliance and improve livelihoods, to protect the environment and shared natural resources, to promote peaceful coexistence between refugees and the host community and to improve access to safe fuel and energy.