Akok Aschai Deng was forced to move to Khartoum during the war a few years ago. She moved into a new home, started at a different school, had to make new friends and be taught in Arabic, the national language of Sudan, when she was used to school taught in English in South Sudan. It was a challenge to start her education all over again, but Akok was up for it because she loved school so much. Akok learned the new educational system and got really good grades while living in Khartoum. She even made it all the way to secondary school in just a few years. When the war subsided and she was able to return home to Aweil in South Sudan, Akok was welcomed with having to start school all over again, again! Akok was bummed that all her progress would be thrown away, but she held her head high and decided she was ready to start over from fourth grade, which is the grade she currently is in today.
When Akok finishes primary and secondary school, she wants to leave Aweil and go to the best college to study “Development.” She thinks that South Sudan desperately needs to advance and reform its policies so that people can benefit and live better lives. Right now, too many people don’t have clean water, electricity, enough food, and so much more. Akok insists that the most important way South Sudan will develop is through educating the people. According to Akok, South Sudan must start by educating girls “so that girls can feel in control of their lives just like boys already do.” Akok considers education to be the key to opening girls’ minds to new methods of living and feeling. That way, girls get to decide for themselves what makes them happy. These feelings of empowerment will then lead to a more equal society in South Sudan.