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Leer community cerebrates reopening of radio and school

Leer community cerebrates reopening of radio and school
Members of the Leer community celebrate relaunch of Leer FM (formerly Naath FM) and Mary John Primary School on Thursday, August 31, 2023 | Credit | Chuol Jany

Hundreds of Leer residents on Thursday celebrated the inauguration of Leer 88.0 FM and Mary John Primary School, which were renovated with support from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through Sheja Salaam activity.

The school and radio station were destroyed during the crisis in 2013 and 2016, respectively.

Leer FM, formerly known as Naath FM, is under The Radio Community (TRC) – a national media NGO, which supports the community station in South Sudan.

The acting Commissioner of Leer County, Gatyiek Lityang, welcomed the relaunch of the radio, saying the reestablishment of the station will help community members express their views freely.

“The radio was off for a long period due to conflict; seeing it back on-air is a happiness to the community,” Lityang told the celebrants.

“Journalists are people who support the government in sending out information. No officials will be against them.”

For his part, the USAID Director for Democracy and Governance, Darren Manning, who headed the delegation to Leer, said the radio will be a great source of information to the community in Leer and beyond.

Manning called for good relations between journalists and local authorities to ensure there is free and independent media, which is a cornerstone of any democracy.

“We support the media in South Sudan and we are happy that this is happening in South Sudan as sources of information to the community to receive news and relevant information. We are also training the journalists to do the facts, evident reports in the way of reporting accuracy in the media,” Manning added.

Meanwhile, Lokiri Nelson, M&E officer for TRC, believed that the reopening of the station marked a new dawn for the community of southern Unity to get back their resilience source of news after eight years without a radio.

He stated: “Today, Leer FM formerly known as Naath FM, is back to give accurate, fair, and independent local language news and information to the surrounding communities. The Radio Community, TRC, thanks our partners for their unwavering support to restore the independent information news service in this area.”

Nelson add that though Leer is back on air again, Sobat FM remains off-air and the community in Upper Nile Counties of Ulang, Bailiet and Nassir remain without access to information.

The former Naath FM station was shut down in 2016 following the outbreak of the renewed conflict in Juba in July.