facebook MSC World Projects Appeal 2024: South Sudan - Missionaries of the Sacred Heart
27 Feb 2024

Making a difference in South Sudan

Irish MSC Fr Alan Neville has been ministering in South Sudan since 2020, where he now fills the role of principal at the Catholic University of Rumbek. At the heart of the mission of the University is transformation. Their work and the courses they deliver are designed to not only to educate the most marginalised in the community, most notably women, but also prepare to help build a South Sudan that is economically and socially more prosperous for those who follow in their footsteps. The journey, however, is a long one, and there have been plenty of challenges along the way.

The work of the Catholic University of Rumbek offers a real opportunity to support people. Research has consistently shown that the rate of return on education, especially third-level education, has helped people lift themselves, their families, and their communities out of poverty. The University began in 2019, working out of a local secondary school, before moving to its current location in an unfinished youth centre. It is an afternoon University, operating intensive classes, while also allowing students to earn wages for themselves and their families in the mornings.

The annual student fees are €140 for the entire year,
and are designed encourage meaningful commitment from the students.
Due to disruption caused by COVID, there are currently three year groups,
split across multiple qualifications with Bachelor courses in
Administration, Education in English and English Literature,
and Commerce, Religious Education and Citizenship.

These courses were chosen as best suited to meet the needs of the population. The University works to foster the local economy, generating opportunities for South Sudanese people for employment and growth. The business courses emphasise entrepreneurship and innovation, especially at the local level.

The current standard of teaching in primary and secondary schools is abysmally low, with most teachers working without even a basic qualification. Consequently, students can finish school with a limited grasp of maths and substandard literacy skills. This only serves to perpetuate a cycle of poverty. The University’s specific emphasis on education degrees aims to tackle this through high-quality lecturing by experienced educationalists, with placements in schools like La Salle and Loreto to model how things could be done differently.

“People really want to get ahead, and the only way for that to happen is through education. There is already significant interest in our next intake. Our students are great ambassadors in promoting our programmes, with several of our female students speaking about how it was possible to undertake a full degree programme with us despite the challenges they faced.”


Altogether, there are seven large classrooms, a staff room, a storeroom, and two small offices that are unfinished. It is a substantial project, involving repairing the roof, installing ceilings, plastering the walls, fitting the floors, and installing an electrical system. Electricity for light and fans is essential.

During the heavy storms of rainy season, lecture halls become so dark that it is impossible for students to see their notes, let alone the blackboard. Driving winds cause dust storms in the classes, as there are window frames, but no windows. During the warmer times of the year, temperatures can reach 44ºC and above. Having only a corrugated metal roof turns the lecture halls into an oven and it quickly becomes unbearable. The development of the building to a proper standard, supported by ongoing maintenance, will ensure that it will serve the community in Rumbek for the foreseeable future. We are working to ensure that the lecture halls will be used to their full capacity, including facilitating events run by the Diocese, such as training and safeguarding workshops for teachers and staff, and a series of short, standalone courses designed to upskill the training of students and members of the wider Rumbek community.

With your help, we hope to raise a total of €208,693.
This includes…

€38,800 to repair the roof
€3,500 to fit new windows
€138,000 to carry out internal work
such as fitting ceilings and floors and plastering walls

€12,000 to carry out the electrical installation
€20,000 to complete the external finishes
€12,000 for services

“Your support will make a profound difference in raising entire communities out of poverty by empowering the South Sudanese to effect change themselves. You and your family and friends have a place in all my Masses and prayers.”
~ Fr Alan Neville MSC
Principal at the Catholic University of Rumbek