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UK - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy

Exploring Resilience in South Sudan through an Arts Based Curriculum

Disclaimer: The data for this page has been produced from IATI data published by UK - Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Please contact them (Show Email Address) if you have any questions about their data.

Project Data Last Updated: 10/11/2021

IATI Identifier: GB-GOV-13-FUND--GCRF-AH_S003894_1

Description

South Sudan is a country internationally characterised by its humanitarian crisis. 7 million people are in need of aid, and in March 2018, 5.3 million people - nearly half the population - were estimated to now face hunger. According to Mercy Corp (2018) 1 million people are facing emergency levels of food insecurity. Compared with the same time last year, this number reflects a 40 percent increase in the population facing severe food insecurity in the post-harvest season. South Sudan is among the highest internationally for prevalence of sexual violence towards women and girls. Whilst conflict has intensified violence against women from non partners, levels of intimate partner abuse has also risen sharply. Therefore the impact of the conflict needs to be understood as gendered. This image of starving, abused masses set against a backdrop of corruption and political violence dominates outsider perceptions and prompts the usual external 'western expert' driven response. The international development community in Juba is highly visible to such an extent that local forms of expression and activism are almost completely silenced. Yet Juba hosts in June its third film festive in which the country's rich artistic and cultural heritage will be on show under the headline 'Keeping Hope Alive'. Post development critiques of development evidence over and over how the mistakes of the past just reproduce themselves particularly at times of acute crisis. More space must be given to new innovative, creative ways of understanding what resilience means in the South Sudan context. Art communities in South Sudan have been channeling their creativity into dialogues exploring critical concepts such as peace, resilience and sustainability. However, as it currently stands these narratives have not been captured in research and do not feed into humanitarian discourses. This problematic context will be, at least partly addressed, by the creation of a new network that brings humanitarian actors into dialogue with university students and artists who specialise in verbal arts. The University of Juba currently has 10,000 students. University education in South Sudan as a colonial enterprise has not integrated local cultures into the curriculum at all. A prior oral history project coordinated by the Co-I (RL) revealed a great disconnect between "local cultures" / mother tongue education and the function of a university education in this setting. The workshop model we propose to develop through this network will represent a decolonialised alternative to explore the core concepts of humanitarianism, namely security, peace and resilience. This network will use the teaching of story telling as its core activity. Artist mentors will facilitate workshops with university students and humanitarian actors who will be encouraged to use this medium to reflect on what resilience means at different levels and for different groups of the population including the most vulnerable (women, children and the disabled). Network members will create their own stories based on their experiences of working and living in South Sudan. Additionally the story-tellers will contribute narratives from historical and community heritage. These stories will be placed into a digital archive and analysed for what they reveal about the different positions held by network members. We believe that this new network will be the beginning of addressing glaring gaps, silences and paradoxes at various levels; academic and humanitarian discussions on what resilience really means and make a vibrant, relevant contribution to the learning of university students. It will also support intercultural sharing and forms of peace building utilising new capacity that will be left by the network in students. Lastly, it will offer the humanitarian community a bridge into understanding the deep rooted experiences of conflict endured by South Sudanese people particularly the most vulnerable.

Objectives

The objectives for this research network emerge as a response to, rather than critique of, current humanitarian programming in South Sudan which has to a large extent sidelined the integration of Higher Education into the peace building efforts in South Sudan. The network will be informed by the thinking of scholars who are part of the philosophy of African Education movement. It will draw on their approach in combining vernacular heritage as the foundation for a possible new curriculum focused on using cultural resources as a vehicle for learning about resilience and peace building. This network aims to plug through research into an art based curriculum an ever growing disconnect between the external-expert focused humanitarian programming in South Sudan and indigenous forms of dialogue and peace brokering. It can be argued that the result of the humanitarian effort in South Sudan has been the imposition of a large stakeholder community with little appreciation for pre-existing non-governmental networks and spaces. The western stakeholder community is highly visible in Juba and consists mainly of international organisations and external donors who fuel a city focused economy demanding the usual global commodities and experiences. Professionally the western humanitarian community tends to operationalise pre-planned responses in accordance with universal blue-prints outlining so-called 'best practice'. This unimaginative approach to humanitarian goals is the result of no viable alternatives. Little research has ever been conducted into verbal arts inparticular story telling in South Sudan. With this context in mind the objectives are: To bring together humanitarian and development actors, university students, academics and artists in order to create a dynamic network within which to reflect on different ways to think and learn about resilience and peace building. To create an archive of stories, both historic and contemporary, about resilience and peace-building in South Sudan. To create a de-colonial reciprocal educational platform through a focus on vernacular indigenous arts that will give university students, academics, humanitarian and development professionals a way of bridging gaps in knowledge and understanding. To use approaches such as story-telling to open up a creative gendered space to reflect and think about what resilience means in South Sudan. This process will ask critical questions about how sustainable peace and resilience can really be achieved in a context of ongoing conflict such as that of South Sudan. To create a network of artists committed to developing a new arts based curriculum for a range of stakeholders including university students and humanitarian actors. Our secondary objectives are focused on using this network to ensure capacity building HE in SS is more of a priority for the humanitarian and development sectors. To bring a group of humanitarian professionals into dialogue with at least one cohort of university students and for them to work together in learning about vernacular arts. They will explore together the potential in this art form as a vehicle for capturing different ways of thinking about resilience. By working together and with artist mentors the capacity of university graduates as potential community peace brokers will be built. This objective responds to the recent ICAI (2017) evaluation on GCRF funding highlighting the need to focus more on building and recognising in country academic capacity. To motivate a generation of university students to reclaim at least one aspect of their cultural heritage and channel it into intercultural dialogues for peace and reliance building and to highlight to the humanitarian sector their potential. To go some way towards better integration of university graduates in the humanitarian effort in South Sudan.

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