Ongoing conflicts in South Sudan, coupled with extreme weather conditions and the subsequent emergencies that arose from them, have severely hindered global, regional, national, and local efforts to improve access to education for South Sudanese youth. Simultaneously, South Sudan’s internal conflicts have led to a massive out-migration of refugees fleeing into neighboring countries, drastically changing the region’s demographic composition. These internal conflicts have impeded, and in some cases, ended global commitments to improve the quality of education in South Sudan. Lack of access to a quality education among South Sudan’s youth has resulted not only in a deterioration of human resource development and skills-building across the nation, but also in the rise of political and religious extremism and violence.
The goal of introducing the SolarSPELL Digital Library to South Sudan has been to minimize these trends if possible, one school at a time, by providing much needed educational information (textbooks, videos, and an encyclopedia) through a digital library. To determine the impact that the SolarSPELL digital library could have in South Sudan, three schools were selected for piloting the technology and resources. These schools were identified in partnership with Africa Educational Trust (AET) and Empower Kids South Sudan. The goal of this pilot stage was to establish the effectiveness of the “train-the-trainer” model for each school. Then, through measurement and evaluation, the goal was to track and record meaningful use of the SolarSPELL digital library (and library lab) at each of the three pilot schools. The SolarSPELL East Africa Digital Library was created for the pilot school initiative with the joint cooperation of the ASU SolarSPELL team and the ASU Libraries.