Aims of the project
Queen's Gate hopes to support St Mark's in providing education for children in Juba, the capital of South Sudan, where a ceasefire was only declared in October 2018. An initial visit to the school revealed four children sharing a pencil stub, taking it in turns to complete an exercise, and led to the establishment of the UK-based charity, Friends of St Mark's Juba.
Background and goals
A Queen's Gate parent, born Khartoum, knew the Coptic Bishop Elia who founded St Mark's and saw the work of the school while visiting South Sudan on business. He inivited Queen's Gate to become involved in supporting St Mark's work and the first visit from our now-retired Director of Junior School took place in November 2017.
Queen's Gate's support of St Mark's comes in two main forms: provision of school equipment and building a network of supporting contacts who are trustees or friends of the charity.
The local knowledge of the parent behind the project is essential to its success: his knowledge of the problems of corruption means that donations are equipment, CPD advice and guidance, with finances being managed through the charity and in collaboration with Unicef South Sudan and Girls Education South Sudan.
The provision at St Mark's School is sensitive to the needs of its pupils. South Sudanese law requires education to be in English, but most children's first language is Arabic: St Mark's has just engaged an Arabic teacher. According to a government census, 36% of primary school pupils in South Sudan lack access to toilet facilities: St Mark's has toilets, clean well water and a separate block for girls. Provision of proper toilet facilities has been found to have a positive impact on girls' school attendance. The school also provides children with a uniform, a cooked lunch, and offers bursaries to those unable to afford education.
The contribution of Queen's Gate, amongst others, is acknowledged in a plaque at the school, and the success of St Mark's has meant there is a girls' secondary scheduled to open in 2020.
The Primary School Certificate results of Y8 pupils will be released in December and expectations are high.
St Mark's currently has children from nursery age up to Y8.
Frequency and duration