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Rising Voices: Moving Forward
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Rising Voices: Moving Forward
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Rising Voices: Hope on the Mekong
After decades of conflict, the people of southern Sudan are rediscovering what it means to live in a time of peace. One of the most immediate benefits is wider access to education, but with limited resources and high demand, young people aren't always finding it easy to catch up on the years of school they missed.
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Produced by UNICEF and the Public Affairs Media Group.

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Segment 1

TITLE
Rising Voices
TITLE
Moving Forward
VOICEOVER
Slowly, from the chaos of civil war, southern Sudan is emerging. This is Juba, the region's largest city, where hundreds of thousands of people are building new lives, safe to move around in their daily routines, to work, play, pray, and build a better life for themselves, their families, and their community. After a brutal conflict that pitted two regions in Sudan -- the north and south -- against each other, Juba is home to Christians, Muslims, and local religious beliefs.
TITLE
Juba, Sudan
VOICEOVER
The city is a magnet that attracts tens of thousands of people from southern Sudan to their homeland after years in exile. Children, the first generation to know peace for decades, are once again going to school.
MARK MALUIL GARANG [Former child soldier]
School is really important. If you study, you can help your country. Not many people in our country are educated. You are lucky if you have boreholes in your area. This is why we need our people to be educated, so they can help our country, and so that my people do not suffer. The rest of the world is ahead. We have been left behind. With an education, we can help our country develop.
BIAR BIAR [Student]
In the war, I don't like anything in the war. Because in war we don't have the development, we don't have the opportunity to do anything in war. Now, you can see, every child goes to school. In a time of war, no child goes to school. Now, we are bright. There are all children going to school.
VOICEOVER
Five years into a regional peace accord, school enrollment in southern Sudan has increased rapidly from a wartime low of a few hundred thousand students to more than one and a half million, according to the latest estimates, helped by a go-to-school drive co-organized by the government of southern Sudan, UNICEF, and other development partners
EDWARD KOKOLE [Ministry of Education, Science, and Technology, Government of Southern Sudan]
Those are huge challenges to overcome. They take a few years, as you can see by now. But we thank our partners UNICEF for some of the things we've realized. In terms of our enrollment rate, it's been raised, because an awareness campaign was launched all across Southern Sudan. Now, enrollment is picking up. That is one area we can see some success. The enrollment rate was so low. In 2005, the enrollment was about 22 percent, the least in the whole world. Illiteracy rate, the highest in the whole world: 85 percent for male, over 90 percent for female.
VOICEOVER
Today, classes in southern Sudan's schools are crowded with children who want to learn, often 100 students to a class. The government's priorities are to train teachers and build schools. UNICEF is involved at the very start, helping lay the foundations for the region's recovery.
CHARLES NABONGO [Acting Chief of Education, Southern Sudan Area Program]
UNICEF is addressing the entire ... setting up, supporting the entire education sector from primary to tertiary, establishing systems, not only looking at institutions for teacher training, for example, at the schools themselves, but also the policies. Over the next two years, there should be tremendous improvement. Get some children into school, and I think this is a tremendous achievement. A major issue is the girls. You don't find very many girls in schools. In some schools, you only find, especially in upper classes, just one girl out of 15. In some places, you don't even see any girls.
VOICEOVER
UNICEF's goal for southern Sudan is a system of schools that are child-friendly. A child-friendly school provides an environment that is safe, healthy, and protective, has trained teachers, adequate resources, and appropriate physical, emotional, and social conditions for learning. A place, in short, where children's rights are guaranteed and their voices are heard. To that end, UNICEF is working with the government of southern Sudan.
EDWARD KOKOLE
Southern Sudan has been at war for many years. We don't say 20 years; we can go back to independence. For more than 50 years, there was no peace, people never had any rest. So all that half a century is so enormous that the education system was completely destroyed. To rebuild that, I don't think four years are enough for us to do something on that system. Many teachers were killed. Schools were demolished and destroyed. But we are thankful to the international community that they also join hands with us, and were able to double our efforts. At least something has been done, but the challenges are enormous
VOICEOVER
Mark Maluil Garang is 19 years old. When he was 11, he was separated from his family and hasn't seen them for eight years. Like thousands of other displaced boys in Sudan, he became a child soldier.
MARK MALUIL GARANG
At that time, my parents were at home. We were herding goats to a waterhole. Then, fighting broke out. Everyone ran away in different directions. I ran away, and I never went back. I met with others fleeing the fighting, and we teamed up.
VOICEOVER
While on the run, Mark was helped by members of his tribe, the Dinka.
MARK MALUIL GARANG
In my country, when you find older people, they teach and discipline the young. In times of war, we all know that children are displaced, and a child may be fed and clothed by strangers. This is a war situation. I met somebody in El-Obeid. He sent me to school along with his own children. He fed and housed me, but I had to earn my keep. I had to work to earn money, so I shined shoes. When school fees were due, I saved my money for this, so I could pay all the fees by myself. I studied primary year six in 2007, but I left that school without completing the year. Then I came to Juba in 2007 and resumed primary year six. In 2008, I started primary year seven. I had nobody to help me with funds.
VOICEOVER
He left the army after three years and says he came to Juba by trading cans of stolen diesel to a boat operator for his passage. He wanted to complete his education. Mark lives on his own in a house he built himself from corrugated iron.
MARK MALUIL GARANG
I didn't want to be in the army. Some of the other child soldiers had relatives who were senior people in the army, and so they managed to be released to go to school. I didn't have that, and so I could see my situation was hopeless.
VOICEOVER
Mark attends Buluk A Basic School. UNICEF supports the school. In another country, Mark might be at university or working. Here, he is at primary level, one of more than a million students who missed out on education in the war, when schools were closed. Now, they're making up for lost time. Some of his schoolmates are in their twenties. All are learning English, a new government policy to stretch children beyond their local Arabic dialect and introduce English as the official language.
MARK MALUIL GARANG
If I complete all my schooling, then, depending on the subjects I will have chosen, I could become anything, perhaps a doctor, but we are at elementary level, so we haven't chosen yet.
BIAR BIAR
In Southern Sudan, I want to change the suffering of our people during war. I don't need our people to be suffering again and being killed in the war, and I need also to develop our country to look like other countries like America. That is what I need to want to develop. I'd like to get enough education. Our children here, I need them to get enough education and make everything here in Juba, like roads, houses, classes, and hospitals. We need to build a lot of services and what everything here in Juba.

Segment 2

VOICEOVER
Buluk A Basic School is state-run. It is supposed to be free to all students, but the government is overwhelmed by demands for public services and payroll bureaucracy. It hasn't yet managed to make good on a peacetime promise to end fees. Mark works in a small shop to pay his way.
MARK MALUIL GARANG
I was able to speak to my father on the phone. He said to me, "That is how life is." He sent me his picture. He has become older in nine years, but he has not aged too much.
VOICEOVER
Mark's school is not yet a child-friendly school, but UNICEF is working with the government of southern Sudan to make it so. Compared with another school on the same grounds, there are small, but noticeable improvements. Already, it has better classrooms. A security fence has been built. Separate toilets for boys and girls, though looters are a persistent problem, and a system is needed to keep the toilets and grounds clean. The school lacks running water, has no garbage pick-up service, so students pitch in. Students at Mark's school have exercise books. Many other schools, though, still rely on rote learning to teach large numbers of children, few of whom have paper or pencils. Edward Kokole has seen a full-fledged, UNICEF-sponsored, child-friendly school in Malakal, also in southern Sudan. He believes the model is what southern Sudan's children need and deserve: a giant step up, in some cases, from what they are getting.
EDWARD KOKOLE
It's a very nice concept of child-friendly schools. Some of the schools have no latrines, no water. Children, you can see them squatting outside, in the open. The area is so smelly, it's very filthy. But when we went to a school supported by UNICEF, fenced nicely, with water, taps, tanks put up, nice kitchen, and a store for the food and breakfast for the children, you can see latrines for the girls and boys, with water put around those toilets, with soaps. You see the environment, the love between the children and the teachers. It was so wonderful. We are coping, but of course, by diluting the system and the quality of this education, because learning facilities are so limited, like the schools. But, at this time, children are crying for teachers to come and teach them, but teachers are not there to come and teach them. This is the challenge going on for our modern children.
VOICEOVER
That's partly because some teachers have not been paid for months. Morale and motivation are often low, and made worse by the inability of many to teach in English. Good teachers, though, want the best for children. In Juba, their wish lists sound remarkably like some of UNICEF's own descriptions of a child-friendly school. This science and social studies teacher, Taban Zecheriah, is 22. He started teaching after his parents died, and he had no money to continue his university studies. He has no formal training.
TABAN ZECHERIAH [Teacher]
I need all the teachers and we who are teaching there the students, at least let's try to train our children and to wake them up with a good spirit, with a way of understanding, not by way of misunderstanding them, by not even beating them. We may just write a letter that we send to the parents of the child, either we suspend the child for five days or maybe one week. Then, from there, he will be applied back to school by the parents, and things will be solved.
VOICEOVER
Ester Ladu reports to work unpaid because, she asks, "Who will teach the children if I don't?" She hasn't heard of the phrase "child-friendly school," but when a UNICEF member of staff explains the concept to her, she likes it very much.
ESTER SIAMA LADU [Teacher]
In my opinion, this is good. Such schools would work very well. For example, if they drill boreholes in schools, then the pupils will have access to free water, because at present, we need to buy water from a truck. When the food is ready, pupils cannot wash their hands. With a borehole, we will have fewer infections and diseases. I always tell the children to wash their hands before food. They listen to me, but there is no water to use. What are they supposed to wash with? The way I see it, these kids are not learning enough. There are many reasons why their studies are suffering. A crowded classroom means very few of them learn, and only the teachers have textbooks, so we write notes on the blackboard for the pupils to copy. The pupils should all have textbooks, so even if they copy notes, they can still read the book. Sometimes, pupils do not attend, but if they had a textbook, they could still learn at home.
EDWARD KOKOLE
Now, when peace came people were expecting now education to be provided to them free of charge, to be their peace dividend. They wanted to get everything from the government, exercise books, stationeries, even a uniform, they wanted the government to provide. So it took us time to sensitize them to understand that, to have quality education you need a contribution from the community.
VOICEOVER
It's hard to involve community in a school where so many students have lost one or both parents to war and other hardships. In spite of the many challenges they face, students themselves are optimistic. This young man has recurring attacks of malaria and often is too sick to come to school.
BIAR BIAR
I talk about the war to our classmates; I said we can struggle to come to school every day. If we struggle and get enough education, we can share ourselves and help our community to develop our country.
VOICEOVER
One unexpected benefit to emerge from war: girls are realizing how important it is to study, now more than ever. Some long-held attitudes are starting to change. Girls' enrollment in southern Sudan's schools today is 37 percent of the 1.5 million students registered. For these girls, education is a clear peace dividend.
REGINA YENO [Student]
Girls these days, when they reach 15 or more, they see no benefit in further education. They see themselves as grown up and think only of being a wife. School is important because, if I study, in the future, if I am educated and become somebody, then I shall be able to support my younger siblings.
JOY MATIA [Student]
I want to be educated, to become somebody in the future, because with no education, you get no support from anyone. And if you are educated, it helps you build a future. So many girls end up married. They have no one to support them, so they marry. I shall wait until I am 37 years old before I marry.
MARY ASUNTA [Student]
I am hoping, when I finish school, to get work. I want to work as a pilot.
VOICEOVER
Every year in Sudan, some 26,000 women die during childbirth. The hope is that education of girls will help reduce this figure.
TAZAINWAN AIYA [Student]
My parents are urging me to stay in school. They say that, in the future, I can help them just as if I were a boy. There's no difference.
VOICEOVER
In a region where everyone of school age and older knows the trauma of sustained conflict, schools in southern Sudan are where children of different ethnic backgrounds and beliefs are learning to live alongside one another -- one of the best guarantees that students at Buluk A Basic School can think of for long-term peace and recovery.
MARK MALUIL GARANG
If I were president, I would help the needy. For example, here in the Konyo-Konyo market area, there are many street kids who are the country's future. I want to house and educate them, to develop Sudan, and help those without parents and other needy people. An education would help them to develop the country. As president, I would not discriminate against anyone. I would help in these ways if I became somebody big.
VOICEOVER
In southern Sudan, education is the key to moving the next generation forward.
TITLE
[end credits]