47 Shine In The National Exams

Woo hoo! The 2020 South Sudan National Results for Primary Schools are out. HOPE for Ariang has remained steadfast in supporting Ariang Network of Schools with learning resources, teacher development opportunities, school management efforts, and the development of internal school leadership capacities.

All these efforts are paying off. The number of students graduating each year has doubled in just 10 years with a nearly equal ratio of girls to boys. Our girls continue to do better in all subjects and have been closing the gap in the mean score compared to their counterparts-the boys. This a huge and commendable impact and a clear indicator that a positive change is happening in the remotest villages of South Sudan.

These are some of the graduates moments before sitting for their national exams

We are proud of the 47 students that enrolled and stayed in school until graduation. And the exciting news is that all of them passed the exams. We congratulate them for staying strong and focused in their quest for knowledge and pursuit for excellence. Both male and female students performed very well and attained good marks. The students put on confidence, determination, and resilience to be able to stay in school and earn this big achievement.

Top Students

Our top male student is John with 410 out of 500 marks while our top female student is Bakhita with 379 out of 500 marks. Both of them have balanced performances in all the subjects. Congratulations John and Bakhita!

Overall Performance

The overall percentage increase in the mean score is 3.80% compared to 2019. The girls had a percentage increase of 0.54% while the boys had a percentage increase of 7.50% in the mean score by gender.

We witnessed a commendable improvement in Math and Social Studies but a slight decrease in English. Learning has resumed across South Sudan and our students will have the opportunity to meet, participate in debates, and English speaking competitions. These skills will help them learn more vocabularies as well as perfect their tenses and grammar.

How Can You Support?

Offer a helping hand and support these kids to build a stronger future for themselves and their families. Every $10 donated supports 1 kid with full-year school supplies.

If you would like to send a check:

HOPE for Ariang Foundation

P.O. Box 569

Syracuse, NY, 13214

Here is a quick PayPal Checkout Option or just click the button below. Create a lasting impact in the lives of the kids of remote villages of South Sudan.

Our Resolve To Unite Ariang Network of Schools

We were worried the performance would fall because of the long Covid break that interrupted learning across South Sudan for 14 months. We are happy to see the students worked hard while they were at home.

Long school vacations pose a set of challenges to our female students and we couldn’t be happier to see them resume learning and pass the exams exceptionally well.

Our goal to consolidate efforts and ensure that the leaderships of all our three schools work towards a common goal is paying off.  We would like to express our gratitude to the students, teachers, and our education director for pulling together in the right direction despite the many barriers that stood in the way in 2020.

To Our Supporters

Thank you for making education more accessible in the villages of South Sudan. This achievement is your dollar at work! Thank you for choosing HOPE and continue supporting us to make this world a better place for everybody.

We are getting bigger, stronger, and better – The making of 25,000 school uniforms

Dressing Our Students – Uniforms and Shoes for Everyone

The Impact We Are Making In 2019 | Ariang School Continues To Thrive

Ariang School Teacher Training.

The Non-Instagram Worthy Side of Development

Today was hard. By mid-day I was overwhelmed by just how challenging it will be to reach HOPE for Ariang’s goal: to transform Ariang students through quality education.

From the beginning, I knew that achieving this goal would not be easy. One “quick fix” will not magically change Ariang School into a center of learning where students receive quality education.  But as James Baldwin writes,

“Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced.”

So with the goal in mind, we set our first priority and established a clear plan this year: Empowering Educators Initiative. As a teacher myself, I am convinced that a central way to transform Ariang students is through effective school leaders who will develop a positive school culture, engage students in stimulating lessons, and guide students towards mastery. We called in “teacher development experts” in East Africa, Dignitas Project to offer what we believe will be the BEST training the teachers can receive.

But today I was reminded of the divide between the goal and reality. Ariang Primary’s reality is that our teachers are undereducated, untrained, and face many of the same injustices that Ariang students do. They are from the same community that has suffered from decades of war and where signs of development are nearly non-existent. This is evident as you drive through the nearest town to see an abandoned teaching hospital, an unfinished school, and a dirt road that is inaccessible during rainy season. Seeing change is not easy in Ariang.

Today marked the third day of our first Teacher Training Institute. Throughout these two weeks in Nairobi, the six selected Ariang fellows are in training sessions from 8:00 – 4:30 pm daily, with additional work to complete in the evening. They are saturated and immersed in all things pedagogy. But by mid-day today, I was overwhelmed with what seems to be the long road we have to eventually realize our goal.

A Wave Of Reality


The waves of reality hit me during a session on positive framing, which is essentially how teachers guide students to do better by inspiring them with positive tone and feedback. As I sat with a small group of three as they tried  to dissect a text on positive framing techniques and strategies, I observed that the teacher fellows struggled with the texts’ language. They had such limited background knowledge on the topic, making it difficult for  them to grasp and understand the subject. They. just. weren’t. getting. It. At all! I felt like a failure. What do I think I’m trying to achieve? Why did I think I could bring them to a training and change anything? These teachers can’t really transform their classroom and school. The facilitators must feel like this is a waste of their time. Negative thoughts continued as the gap between the teacher’s understanding and the content seemed to get wider and wider throughout the session. Thankfully I was not alone. Dignitas facilitators observed the same realities. Even though we discussed that less is more during the early stages of planning for this Institute, today they recognized that even LESS than LESS is more.

A Quick Debriefing Session With The Teachers

During the lunch break the facilitators did some quick debriefing and revising to take a new direction in the afternoon. We spent the afternoon going over the same content again, but this time with simplified language and a condensed one-page handout with the main ideas of each technique. Each positive framing strategy was reviewed, many examples were given, and the facilitators modeled, modeled, and modeled again. At the end, teachers worked in pairs to choose a positive framing strategy and model what it looks like in action. The teachers quickly fell back on what feels “natural” or how they typically curve behavior in their classroom. But they were encouraged to try again, and again, and again. Feedback was provided. And then… it happened. Small little glimpses of change. Don’t misinterpret; it wasn’t a hallmark moment or anything. Even still, the teachers were modeling the new strategy in their practice scenarios. They. Were. Starting. To. Get. It. Not perfectly, still with misconceptions, still with much practice needed. But there was a small shift in how they addressed student behaviors before and how they address student behaviors now.

Transforming a rural community school in South Sudan doesn’t have any quick fixes. It is naïve to think that after these first two weeks classrooms will be transformed. I may return to Ariang next month to find the same quality of teaching and learning happening as what took place before the institute. These teacher fellows will require ongoing support to implement the ideas and concepts they are learning in Nairobi. It’s likely they won’t succeed at first. They will need constructive feedback. They will need strategies modeled again. They will need commitment and motivation to keep working towards change and growth as teachers and school leaders. This is the reality of development, especially in a developing country that exists in fragile peace. We may have a program planned that looks wonderful on paper, but in reality we are in the “business of people”, and people don’t change overnight. Growth takes time, energy, resources, and practice.

HOPE for Ariang’s goal to transform Ariang students through quality education will take time and it certainly won’t happen after this first institute. We need to be ready to shift gears, revise the plan, or try again. It will certainly take long-term commitment and hope in the face of challenges and injustices.

I am reminded of some of the Community Builders that the facilitators begin each day with, these activities are designed to help teachers foster community and ease into the day’s work.  Today we did the Human Knot where everyone stands in a circle, holds hands across the circle with two people, and then they must try to untangle the knot and make a whole circle again (without letting go of each other’s hands). When the teachers first tried, many mistakes were made. Lack of communication or a clear plan make the task difficult. In their first attempt they were completely unsuccessful. The knot was too complex and too hard. Everyone gave up and let go of the others’ hands. In a sense, they failed. But then they tried again. This time, using their prior unsuccessful experience, they communicated better, some people assumed a leadership position, and they discussed ideas before making the next move. It was after this second time that they were successful.

Transforming Ariang students through quality education will not be easy and can’t be fixed with one simple solution. We will fail along the way when implementing new projects and ideas. We will learn many hard lessons. We will face setback. We will have try again and again. But if we don’t face these challenges, then certainly nothing can ever change.

I’m thankful that our HOPE for Ariang supporters understand the complex context in which we work and that they choose to journey with us on the sometimes long and difficult road towards growth and development. You believe in our mission and propel us forward towards our collective goal. And when we succeed, you get to share in our joy that all students are being transformed by quality education at Ariang Primary School.

Empowering Educators Initiative

Dear Friends of Ariang,

I am excited to report how HOPE is growing in Ariang, South Sudan!

This year is off to a wonderful start because of your generous support. Let me recap some of our accomplishments thus far that were only possible through you!

  • 675 boy and girl uniforms were made in Kenya and transported to Ariang. A uniform is a powerful tool of establishing community, equality, and pride among students.
  • 650 pairs of sturdy shoes were distributed as a result of our special appeal last December. With donations ranging from $5 to $2,000, we were able to purchase quality shoes from the non-profit, Because International. These Ethiopian made shoes are designed for rough African terrain and expand as the child grows.
  • The school received new soccer balls and pumps to promote healthy exercise.  
  • We equipped the school with needed school supplies for this academic school year: exercise books, pencils, pens, geometrical sets, and teacher planning books.
  • All teachers received new professional clothes and five bicycles to be shared among those who live a long distance from school.

It is a privilege and honor to be able to give these gifts on your behalf. I wish I could accurately share with you their smiles and gratitude expressed! The morale at the school has been lifted in the midst of daily suffering in the village. The students and teachers at the school know that they are not alone in their pursuit of education and that there are friends over 10,000 miles away who are supporting and cheering them on! Thank you for helping Ariang community to carry on in their pursuit to reach their fullest potential.

These supplies and materials are surely making an impact in Ariang, but what HOPE for Ariang Foundation is embarking on starting next month is even more exciting. It has the potential to have a greater impact for many years to come. I am so excited to share about our Empowering Educators Initiative (EEI) that begins in May!

EEI focuses on improving the quality of education in South Sudan through teacher training, starting at Ariang Primary School. The program will:

  • Begin with a cohort of six Ariang Primary school teachers (fellows) who, given proper training and tools, can be effective teacher-leaders.
  • Fellows will come to Nairobi, Kenya during their school holidays in May and August 2018 for intensive training institutes led by our partner, Dignitas who has trained 569 educators in Kenya since 2011.
  • In between and after institutes, fellows will receive one-on-one coaching from Elizabeth Deng to help them implement the new skills.

Empowering Educators Initiative will equip Ariang teachers to improve pedagogical skills and methodologies, meet the learning needs of their students, and ultimately transform the quality of education at Ariang Primary School.

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After our first cohort of teachers, we hope to grow and expand the program to empower more teachers at Ariang Primary as well as other local schools.

Will you join us as we roll out this exciting new initiative? Uniforms, shoes, and materials are important to address “the needs of now”, but equipping teachers with new knowledge and skills is what will have a long-lasting impact on student learning for years to come.

Please consider giving towards our Empowering Educators Initiative today!

  •      $50 will cover one teacher’s visa to Nairobi, Kenya.
  •      $100 will help cover one teacher’s transport to the training.
  •      $300 will cover the training resources for one teacher.  
  •      $3,500 will cover all expenses for one teacher to fully participate in the program.

Read more about our six selected fellows here! Each one is committed teacher at Ariang School. I am excited for EEI to unlock their potential to be great teacher-leaders. You can donate specifically for this program by following the donate link and writing the name of a specific teacher or just “Teacher Training” in the designed “special instructions” box at Pay Pal checkout. You may also make a donation by mail to the address below.

Thank you for partnering with us to make an even greater impact in Ariang!

With Gratitude,

Elizabeth Deng