Patron -  Joanna Lumley, OBE

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Kassala Pastoralist Education Project

Tree Seedlings as a practical teaching subject

This was a one year project with ambitious aims funded by the Methodist Relief and Development Fund. It had a major practical aspect the growing of tree seedlings by the pupils in the three schools involved for sale to help in the regeneration of the local forests which have been seriously depleted. The other parts including the suggested development of literacy text books, the provision of games equipment and the holding of education workshops for parents, teachers, government officials and community leaders. In practice, this could not all be done. The main part, the development of the practical growing of tree seedlings, was a very considerable success. The volunteer who ran the project for PENHA said the following:

"There was really a new input to the curriculum. The project has demonstrated and proved the value of this practical part of the curriculum and the schools and pupils wanted to follow it."

The Nomadic Education Department of Kassala State supported this approach. There was strong support for the project. Social and Community leaders were very committed. They and the education department helped with the transport of materials for the tree growing nurseries. The value of the approach is shown by the interest that has been taken in the programme by a number of other schools in the area. It has integrated theory with practice for pupils and teachers. This is a fundamental pedagogic result which is particularly beneficial in a country where teaching in schools tends to be always very theoretical, even in basic or primary schools. The picture on the right hand side shows a nursery bed built by teachers and children and funded by the Methodist Relief and Development Fund.

Achievements

Project beneficiaries are 40 students in 3 different schools

  1. Gulsa primary level school, 285 boys and 315 girls (the remotest one)
  2. Amara primary school, 400 girls and 250 boys
  3. Om Alkura primary school, 505 girls only

In addition to these, community members surrounding schools are also beneficiaries

  1. Students who was involved in taking care of plants gained knowledge and skills to grow plants as well as learning how to work together with other students
  2. Teachers developing material regarding seed planting as part of their training All three teachers completed their own training. Three to four cycles of the purchase of seeds, soil, plastic bags, etc. followed by planting and growing the seedlings until they could be sold and replanted were completed in each school.
  3. Regular monitoring took place. Sales and use of seedlings were accomplished
  4. Communities surrounding the school worked together with them

Supporting basic education among pastoralists in Kassala State

The generosity of the South Holland Rotary Club (based in Spalding, Lincs) allowed PENHA to distribute school equipment to seven schools. These were in settlements which were between 15 and 170 km from the regional centre of Kassala, itself only about 20 km from the Eritrean border. The population is mainly pastoralist though with many refugees from Eritrea. A total of 525 exercise books, 855 pencils, 355 writing boards, 170 rulers, 160 pencil rubbers and 185 pencil sharpeners along with 170 bags for protecting the children’s books and writing equipment were given to the school children. Some equipment for games (balls, skipping ropes and a few footballs and whistles) was also provided. Even the boxes which were used to send the material to Sudan are being used again for sending some material for making fodder to pastoralists across the border in Eritrea. Nothing is wasted and the boxes will be used again and again.

Books for primary schools in Eastern Sudan

The South Holland Rotary Club along with its Rotary District (1070) provided major funding for purchasing 2,000 books in Arabic (the language of instruction in Eastern Sudan). The funds were administered in Sudan by the Khartoum Rotary Club which arranged for buying the books. PENHA Sudan organised the transport to Kassala, and the Pastoralist Environment Association Kassala State (PEAKS, a local grass roots community based organisation) were responsible for distributing the books to the six schools.

The schools were: Silke School, Edgi School, Hilat sidig School, Um ashosh School, Abu hasheila School and Karti School. Each school was given between 310 and 345 books. Six of the books were text books on basic Arabic, and two were basic Maths books. In addition, copies of the Holy Quran were provided.

In his report of the distribution of the books, Abdelgani, PENHA's main contact in Sudan said that the lack of books is a real crisis for many schools. Some schools have no books other than the one used by the teacher and even in the better provided schools, five children will be expected to share each book. He finished by saying "More investment in this issue is crucial."

PENHA remains committed to supporting and developing the education of pastoralists.