By Kim Jones, Curriki CEO
At the end of the 20 year civil war in Sudan, a new country was formed: South Sudan.
While I was at the WISE 2012 Summit in Qatar last week, I had the opportunity to sit next to the Undersecretary for the Ministry of General Education Deng Deng Hoc Yai. He told a fascinating story…
Deng Deng Hoc Yai grew up in south Sudan with parents who did not know how to read or write. He ended up going to school by accident when he was around the age of seven. He does not know his real birthday. He was born at home to parents who could be described as illiterate; they did not understand the concepts of dates, months or times. When Mr. Deng was old enough to understand these concepts, he only knew he was born during the worst drought sometime in the mid-1960s.
Mr. Deng excelled in school and ended up with a scholarship to the university in Cairo. He eventually made his way to London and lived there until the end of the civil war in Sudan. At that time, he returned with his family (his children were born in London) to help rebuild his country.
You might ask: how did he get a passport without a birth certificate? Well, this is more common than you might think in the developing parts of the world. Before he traveled to Egypt, Mr. Deng went to a doctor who measured him and assigned him a birth date of January 1, 1966. He has never questioned this date, as there is no way to ever know for certain.
Today, Mr. Deng is undersecretary for the Ministry of General Education and is trying to help educate the new generation and rebuild a country. The teachers have no textbooks and cannot afford to buy them. But Mr. Deng is a big believer in the power of technology and although they don’t have electricity and power everywhere, they have batteries and many cell phones. He is very excited about Curriki and the opportunity for his country to use Curriki’s free educational resources in his efforts to eradicate illiteracy and build an educated and informed nation.