Building a Better Nation

Schools Train Future Teachers and Healthcare Workers

In a place where the number of educators and healthcare workers are dismally few, Sudan Relief Fund supports two facilities that are preparing students to fill this critical need across their nation.

The Catholic Health Training Institute (CHTI) in Wau equips students to become registered nurses and midwives, to bolster availability of healthcare services that couldn’t be more greatly needed in their country.

Sister Nora McCarthy observes as a student takes a blood pressure during a class at the Catholic Health Training Institute (CHTI) in Wau, South Sudan. Run by Solidarity with South Sudan, an international network of Catholic organizations supporting the development of the world’s newest country, the CHTI trains nurses and midwives from throughout the country. McCarthy, who is Irish and a lecturer at the CHTI, is a member of the Sisters of Saint Francis of Philadelphia.

The Need for Facilities

Currently 34 counties in South Sudan have less than one primary healthcare unit per 15,000 people, and 23 counties have less than one facility per 50,000 in population.

Proximity is just one problem. Transportation is another. Only 59% of people can reach a healthcare facility within one hour from their home, and 80% of the population face severe obstacles in getting to a place of care – obstacles such as lack of vehicle transportation, impassable roads, and threats to safety when traveling.

Working to Improve Women’s Healthcare

Most mothers have no access to prenatal care, and deliver babies in their villages with no qualified medical supervision. It’s not surprising this gives rise to one of the worst childbirth mortality rates globally. These conditions amplify the need for qualified nurses and skilled prenatal care.

Since 2010 the CHTI has been fighting to change those statistics. To date the school has graduated 268 new healthcare workers as registered nurses (RN) or registered midwives (RM). Thirty seven percent of graduates are women, and this number is increasing. This year, 43% of the student population are women – a significant number in a country where a stigma against educating women remains prevalent.

Sister Maria Teresa Ronchi teaches a class at the Catholic Health Training Institute (CHTI) in Wau, South Sudan. Run by Solidarity with South Sudan, an international network of Catholic organizations supporting the development of the world’s newest country, the CHTI trains nurses and midwives from throughout the country. Sister Ronchi, a Comboni missionary from Italy, is a lecturer at the institute.

Promoting Peace and Unity

In addition to their medical skills, another primary component of training is peace negotiation and reconciliation. Students come to the institute from all different tribes, regions, and backgrounds. A major aim of the CHTI is to promote unity among students, teaching them to work side by side as people of one nation, who will carry that sentiment into the communities where they live and work.

A full 85% of CHTI’s graduates are currently employed in the national public or private health sector, and 35% are serving in mission hospitals around the nation. Each year a handful of students are sent on for further education, who come back as tutors to help train other students at the institute.

The Solidarity Teacher Training College (STTC) is dedicated to raising up the teachers of tomorrow for their nation, to combat deplorable literacy rates and alarmingly low school attendance among the country’s child population.

Localized conflicts, inability to pay schools fees, long distances from places of education, and concern for safety along the route to and from school are major factors in low attendance.

Fighting the Statistics

Government spending on education in South Sudan continues to decline and the shortage of school personnel continues to rise, underscoring the importance of the STTC’s mission more than ever. Since 2012, the school has graduated 746 teachers, and 72% of these graduates are employed in education in their local communities.

STTC is committed to promoting equal opportunity education for men and women. Currently, 17% of graduates are women, and the school has set a recruiting goal for women to reach 50% of their student population. They are getting close. This year, among the 41 new students enrolling, 20 of them are women.

Joana Ilario, a graduate of the Solidarity Teacher Training College (STTC) in Yambio, South Sudan, helps one of her students in the Catholic Church-sponsored St. Mary’s Primary School in Yambio. The STTC is run by Solidarity with South Sudan, an international network of Catholic groups working to train teachers, health workers and pastoral agents throughout the African country.

Enhancing Curriculum

Students master a curriculum of English, Math, Science, Social Studies, Christian Religious Education, Physical and Health Education, with extracurricular activities in Arts and Music. There are also agricultural workshops and sports activities. Each year, two students are chosen to pursue higher education, who return to teach at STTC for a minimum of four years.

Beginning in July of 2022, STTC launched a new additional one-year program for graduates, so those who hold their basic primary teaching certificate can achieve Diploma level. This will bring their teaching credentials closer to that offered in other countries and open opportunities for graduates to qualify for higher positions in the education sector.

Exemplifying Peace

Another mission of the school is to equip teachers with peacebuilding dialog and conflict resolution skills, to serve as leaders in their communities in unity and reconciliation efforts that represent a tremendous need in the nation.

Because of our faithful donor base, Sudan Relief Fund is able to continue supporting these two wonderful institutions, that work on the frontlines to build a more peaceful and sustainable future for the people of South Sudan.

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