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WPDI strengthens the skills and confidence of its trainers in charge of our Community Learning Centers in South Sudan

On 3-7 July 2017, WPDI held a training workshop for managers and ICT trainers of its 10 Community Learning Centers (CLCs) from the southeastern part of South Sudan. The 5-day training was conducted by our partner ICT Society South Sudan.

This training is part of the build-up in the former area of the Eastern Equatoria State (EES) of the Youth Peacemaker Network (YPN), our flagship program with branches in Uganda as well as Mexico. The overall objective of WPDI is to help vulnerable communities impacted by conflict and armed violence on their path back to resilience, drawing on the energy of youth. As part of the YPN, WPDI establishes in its areas of intervention, a network of CLCs based on the assumption that education and technology are the pillar of the future in the contemporary world. In South Sudan we already opened in partnership with UNESCO, Ericsson, Zain, Education Above All, IKEA Foundation, Swedish Postcode Foundation, MasterCard Foundation and ICT Society South Sudan, 9 Community Learning Centers in Eastern Equatoria and 1 CLC in Yambio, Western Equatoria. These centers are very popular and gather every month an average of 200 youths for trainings and peace activities.

Technology opens doors to new worlds of knowledge and opportunities to exchange with people a continent or a block away. But in communities impacted by violence and poverty, people often have no or insufficient access to the knowledge and technology they need to lift themselves out of these vicious cycles.

To address this gap, our CEO/founder, UNESCO Special Envoy for Peace and Reconciliation Forest Whitaker made it a core dimension of the YPN to create opportunities for learning and for access to ICT in remote communities. Hence the CLCs. They offer access to computers, connectivity as well as library services, and certified trainings in literacy, peace building, ICTs and entrepreneurship. An integral part of our strategy to promote dialogue within and between communities, the CLCs also host peacebuilding activities including sports- and cinema-based programs as well as advocacy events that address wide audiences in the communities where we operate. To ensure local ownership of the centers, WPDI hires local staff who are already competent in the field of ICTs and can directly engage communities.

The training of July 2017 was intended to upgrade the skills and knowledge, notably in ICTs, of the managers of our CLCs located in EES as well as to introduce them to our new ICT manual. This training is the first in a series that we expect to become regular, as it allows center managers to exchange directly among themselves on their successes and challenges, which will increase the capacity to deliver of WPDI as a whole. Such training is in itself a key aspect of the program as it aims to build a cohesion that we view as instrumental to reach out to local communities. Thus, when asked about her views on the training, Angeline Sani John, the Yambio Center Manager, insisted on the self confidence she gained and declared: “I learned a lot of things from this training. I also learned solutions to few of the challenges I was facing. But, more importantly, I now think that nothing will be hard for me to solve at the center, especially with respect to satisfying visitors.” 

We highly value that our team members would gain confidence and express it so openly, especially since we intend our CLCs to be more than places for the acquisition of technical capacities. They are to become community hubs that work to promote peace, development and social transformation. This was well expressed by what Lochuk Daniel, manager for our CLC in Budi: “In my own perspective the community learning center activities that has been initiated is what matched both my interest as a trainer in a point of giving back to the society and the desperate need of youth/community members who would love to see themselves elevated by such programs.”

At WPDI, we view awareness of their mission as a core competence of our center managers and staff in general. In this regard, Dudu Judith Francis, who is the manager for our CLC in Ikwoto had a very moving message to deliver: “I feel that the activities being implemented by WPDI have kept me engaged and busy, especially considering that I am a lady with a small baby. This has shown that our society should embrace and encourage the participation of ladies in all spheres of life. I am here as a live example making it possible to juggle work and family and nursing a baby. I hope my being a lady and managing the CLC in Ikwoto and conducting ICT trainings for my community members will encourage more ladies to study and achieve their career dreams.”

These very personal words are one of the best expressions of the potential for social transformation that Forest Whitaker has placed at the core of our mandate.