Kids are sitting quietly at their desks and concentrating on the day’s lesson. No romping about, no noise or giggling, even though there is no teacher around. Only a soft murmur fills the small classroom in the convent near Kalaw, Myanmar. Nothing can distract the children. Definitely not the foreign-looking woman who enters, watches for a while and takes a picture. In every child, there is something of a little fighter. They have an uncompromising will to learn, to evolve. As if they sense that learning is a way out of their current lives.”
We all take school education for granted, don’t we?
We may have on occasion to encourage and persuade our children that it’s there for their benefit and long term gain, but what would we do without it?
This is a question faced everyday by countless children who do not have access to the luxury of free education.
K & M Public Health Coordinator Fiona Murray knows only too well that this is the reality for children in South Sudan. Volunteering with Volunteer Services Overseas (VSO), she has just returned from spending time working with the South Sudan County Health Department, supporting them to deliver important health initiatives, aiming to protect the local communities against avoidable health problems.
VSO works throughout Africa, Asia and the Pacific to not only provide health care but to identify people disadvantaged within and outwith the education system in each country. Their vision is that all children have access to good primary education. This includes ensuring the most disadvantaged – girls, those with disabilities and children affected by HIV and AIDS – go to school.
Volunteers support improvements in education by working in teacher training colleges, by improving classroom skills and knowledge and providing enjoyable, inclusive education for all. In addition, volunteers work with local government and education departments to assess, plan, monitor and evaluate national teaching programmes.
Continuing unrest in Sudan has meant evacuated volunteers have been unable to continue their vital work there at present. However, for Fiona the work continues. She is running next year’s London Marathon to raise funds for VSO. If you would like to learn more about VSO or make a donation, visit their website www.vso.org.uk