Benching for Education: How Anoon Bul Aguer Kuirs project has improved students experience at Kings Secondary School in South Sudan

By Brenda Odhiambo

Benching for Education, championed by Anoon Bul Aguer Kuir, a Mastercard Foundation Scholar from South Sudan, started as a community-driven initiative seeking to provide durable and comfortable benches to the students in Kings Secondary School. The challenge of insufficient seating facilities impeded the learning experience at the school, posing a challenge for both students and educators. Through collaboration with the community, the project aimed to enhance the learning environment, promote student well-being, and advance the school's mission of providing quality education.

Anoon, a third-year student in the Bachelor of International Relations program at USIU-Africa, firmly believes that education is the key to empowerment, and that every student deserves a comfortable space to learn and grow. Through the project, which ran from October 14 to 20, 2023, she was able to put her belief in action by providing the school with 10 weather-resistant benches.

These benches, strategically placed in classrooms, study areas, and outdoor spaces, greatly improved the students’ well-being, as they no longer had to sit on the ground or on makeshift seating. Designed to withstand adverse weather conditions and to accommodate varying age groups, the benches have benefited 30 students, with each bench designed to seat three students.

Anoon credits Mr. Alier Abraham, the school’s Managing Director and Mr. Matiop Kuol, the Principal, for their leadership during the implementation of the project.

“Their strategic guidance, commitment to educational excellence, and enthusiasm for creating an optimal learning environment were instrumental in steering the project toward success. Their vision and collaborative spirit laid the foundation for a transformative initiative, which seeks to address the fourth Sustainable Development Goal of providing quality education,” Anoon says.

The project has had a profound impact on students at the school, with students reporting improved comfort during classes and breaks due to the availability of benches. This has positively impacted their well-being, reducing the physical strain and discomfort associated with inadequate seating.

The provision of proper seating has contributed to increased academic engagement. Students are now more focused and participative in classroom activities, leading to potential improvements in academic performance. The project has also instilled a sense of dignity and equality among students. Access to uniform and comfortable seating ensures that every student, regardless of background, has an equal opportunity to learn in a conducive environment.

At the community level, Anoon notes that the project has fostered a sense of community engagement. Parents and members of the community, observing the positive changes in the school environment, are more likely to be involved in school activities, promoting a collaborative educational atmosphere.

“The success of the Benching for Education Project has inspired discussions about addressing other infrastructure challenges in the community. It has sparked conversations about potential future initiatives to improve the overall educational experience further by providing the students with computers, school buses, and additional classroom facilities,” she says.

With recommendations for continuous monitoring and expansion of the initiative, the Benching for Education Project is poised to inspire future interventions that will bring about transformative change not only at Kings Secondary School, but across South Sudan.

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