This Side of Freedom: Educating Girls in South Sudan

This Side of Freedom: Educating Girls in South Sudan

Akon, SudanJamaica Plain, United States
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$250,000 - $500,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

My Sister's Keeper believes education brings freedom and peace. By training teachers and education youth, we can effect global change.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

One of My Sister's Keeper's key educational initiatives is the Kurnyuk School for Girls, a primary school with 500 enrollees in the village of Akon, Gogrial West County, Warrap State, South Sudan. The school was founded in 2003 and in 2009, MSKeeper completed the construction of Kurnyuk’s permanent campus. At the request of the community stakeholders and the Warrap State Ministry of Education, we now have prioritized teacher training. My Sister’s Keeper firmly believes that the ultimate aim of a school system is to deliver teaching that cultivates literacy, numeracy and learning. If Kurnyuk students are taught by teachers who are trained collectively and motivated to raise learning achievement levels, then they will master master basic English literacy and numeracy by 4th grade.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

To provide teacher training, MSKeeper has partnered with the Educational Initiative of the Southern Sudan Institute (SSI) led by literacy specialists at Central Washington University. In February 2011, SSI conducted a pilot 12-day teacher-training workshop based on the Optimal Learning Model and focused on teaching literacy and communication strategies in order to build capacity for additional professional development. Each teacher attending the workshop was equipped with research-based literacy strategies, strategy brochures, and communication skills and agreed to return to his/her home area and teach 5 more teachers.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The training will focus on the specific needs of the teachers in rural Akon. The face-to-face training will focus on teaching English language literacy in order to build these teachers’ skills and also to build capacity for additional professional development. Program materials will include: • Reference books – dictionaries and grammar books • Audio materials for modeling the sounds of English and developing trainees’ listening and speaking skills • Communication Activities: non-verbal, listening, presentations, engagement, group work. The South Sudan Institute has developed a brochure highlighting communication strategies. • In line with the communications strategies and approaches developed by the South Sudan Institute, base the program on a communicative approach for teaching a language with more emphasis on speaking and listening skills and practice. • Make the content relevant for teachers and their needs for English in the classroom • Identify and/or develop additional audio, multi-media and print-based programs and materials to support materials provided by the Ministry of Education These recommendations include the language theory based on communicative competence and a syllabus designed to develop proficiency in the English language for teaching purposes. Objectives include: • All teachers will achieve a level of general conversational English • Content oriented to schools and teaching • Content will incorporate English content plus English teaching methodologies from the South Sudan Institute

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

South Sudan is still recovering from years of genocide, atrocities and neglect. It suffers from a severe lack of educational systems and has one of the lowest literacy rates (24%) in the world. There is a desperate need for basic educational services, specifically in the areas of teacher training, primary education, girls’ education and institutional development. This project focuses on the need for teacher training and uses a training-the-trainer approach to reinforce goals of literacy, peace, and reconciliation. Our peers are the South Sudan Institute with who we partner on training. Additionally the Sudan Ministry of Education provides materials for teaching and training. A collaborative approach is necessary in Sudan and South Sudan to effect change.
About You
My Sisters Keeper
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

My Sisters Keeper

Organization Country

, MA, Jamaica Plain, Suffolk County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, WRB, Akon

Your role in Education


The type of school(s) your solution is affiliated with

Public (tuition-free)

How long has your organization been operating?

More than 5 years

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

How long has your solution been in operation?

Operating for more than 5 years

Now that you have thought out your entry, help us pitch it.
Define your company, program, service, or product in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

My Sister's Keeper believes education brings freedom and peace. By training teachers and education youth, we can effect global change.

Identify what is innovative about your solution in 1-2 short sentences [136 characters]

MSK views education and peace building as inextricable, taking a holistic approach to bringing hope to Sudan and South Sudan.

Social Impact
What has been the impact of your solution to date?

Upon completing construction of Kurnyuk’s permanent campus, MSKeeper agreed to focus our next project on facilitating teacher training for the staff of 12 teachers. Initially, we took a “piecemeal” approach—simply identifying training opportunities for the teachers. Two teachers participated in the Pan African Reading for All Conference in Tanzania in 2009. Two other teachers participated in the training organized by the Southern Sudan Institute (SSI) in February 2011. Recognizing that this approach would be too slow in equipping the entire staff, we agreed to organize a site-based teacher training with the support of the Warrap State MoE. In August 2011, MSKeeper hired Phillip Lual, founding headmaster of the Kurnyuk School, and currently Akon South Payam Education Supervisor, to serve as MSKeeper’s Educational Services Coordinator to oversee our educational projects and become lead organizer for the teacher training.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

The strategy to deliver English language training will occur over 3 years. It will include (3) 5-day face-to-face full time trainings alternating with (3) 5-day face-to-face part time trainings. All group trainings will be held at the Kurnyuk School for Girls. These group trainings will provide 180 contact hours per learner. Interim support will be provided by 3 tutors projected to provide an additional 180 contact hours over 3 years. The projected schedule for trainings is:

Jan 2012- Baseline Assessments
Mar 2012 – Face-to-face classes over 5 days
Jul 2012 - Face-to-face classes during academic year
Dec 2013 - Student Assessments
Mar 2014 – 3rd Training
Jul 2014 - Face-to-face classes during academic year
Dec 2014 – Student Assessments
Jan 2015 - Evaluation and Final Report

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

After enduring two decades of civil war, the people of South Sudan have one of the lowest literacy rates in the world (only 24 percent of the adult population can read and write, according to the South Sudan Commission, 2010). Education consistently leads the list of government services that are most highly valued and desired—demonstrating that South Sudanese see a better education for their children as a top priority. As South Sudan emerges from decades of conflict, it must meet many challenges, including ensuring effective delivery of essential public services to meet the high expectations of citizens. An educated and healthy work force is necessary for the development of sustainable livelihoods, and educated and healthy citizens form the foundation for stable and democratic governance.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact


Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Continue to test pilot teacher training

Task 2

Work with the Ministry of Education on materials

Task 3

Recruit teachers

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone


Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Adapt materials

Task 2

Conduct Assessments

Task 3

Roll out model to new regions

Founding Story: We want to hear about your "Aha!" moment. Share the story of where and when the founder(s) saw this solution's potential to change the world [125 words]

in 2001, a journalist invited Gloria White Hammond to travel to South Sudan where she was planning to report on modern day slave trafficking. Feeling that she could not take on another cause. Gloria initially declined, but then went reluctantly. The trip changed her life. The stories of the newly-freed slave women inspired her. They conveyed horrific tales of being uprooted, seeing their men killed, being separated from their children and subjected to sexual violence. Through their words, she heard the slave narratives of her ancestors. In the scars that laced the women’s bodies, Gloria could see her great grandmother’s accounts come to life. Gloria held the hand of one woman as she spoke tenderly, “I’m so sorry.” For a moment, the woman almost gave herself permission to emote. Within several days of listening to and talking with the slave women, she knew she had found her vocation and ever since has been advocating for and educating women and girls in Sudan and South Sudan.

Tell us about your partnerships

MSK partners with the South Sudan Institute whose teacher training program is supported by International Reading Association and Rotary International. Professors from Central Washington University train South Sudanese teacher-leaders (hand picked by John Dau) on methods of teaching academics.

What type of team (staff, volunteers, etc.) will ensure that you achieve the growth milestones identified in the Social Impact section? [75 words]

Gloria White Hammond is Co-Founder and Executive Director of My Sister’s Keeper and, subsequently, of MSKeeper, Inc. Gloria has made numerous trips into war-torn southern Sudan, Darfur and Chad. In 2002, she co-founded My Sister’s Keeper and became its Executive Director in 2007.

Sarah Cleto-Rial is MSK's program office. She is a native of southern Sudan. Sarah has a long history of dedication to organizations working to empower women and advocate for peace. Sarah has held leadership positions with the American Anti-Slavery Group and the Sudanese Women Alliance.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list