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Ever wondered about the history of the Excel Academies that we sometimes mention? We’d like to break it down for you this week. Today we share with you the remarkable story of Wani “Kenneth” Evans, our current Director of Schools for Africa ELI, and the founder of the first Excel Academy.

After having recently departed the temporary refuge of Uganda to return to his homeland of South Sudan as it emerged from civil war conflict, Kenneth was walking along a sub-Saharan, narrow dirt road when Africa ELI personnel met him and offered him a ride to relieve him from the scorching direct sunlight. That chance meeting led Kenneth to his first employment position with Africa ELI in January 2008 –assisting us in building and establishing a secondary school in Mukaya Payam, Lainya County, Central Equatoria State, South Sudan. Kenneth’s work ethic and leadership potential were soon obvious, earning him several promotions over the years.

In mid-2010, the local Episcopal Church gave Kenneth access to land in Yei, Central Equatoria state in South Sudan. With endorsements and support from Africa ELI, Kenneth rehabilitated buildings on the land and founded the first Excel Academy, a high school for boys and girls.  Having gained four years of practical, field experience with Africa ELI, he conferred with the Ministry of Education and local officials to establish the new school; he hired teachers; and he opened the doors for the inaugural class of students in March 2011. His student population in the first month of school operations stood at 86 seniors, 102 juniors, 100 sophomores, and 200 freshmen being taught by a faculty of 13. Today, over 600 students are currently receiving access to education through the efforts of one man and the cadre of business and education associates he acquired as a staff member at Africa ELI.  

In 2008 Kenneth met a special, bright young woman. They married and eventually became the proud parents of a baby girl born in 2009. In the midst of excitement and anticipation for South Sudan’s recognition of independence in July 2011, a second daughter was born to Kenneth and Nyoka.

Kenneth is doing more than simply hoping that the independence of South Sudan will lead to better opportunities for his daughters and the new nation’s young people. He is taking action to help it become a more just, equal, and prosperous society. Through his development of Excel Academy it seems Kenneth is giving a nod to the future generation and saying, “this is a good place to live and raise a family. Educate yourselves and contribute to the progress. Dare to imagine the possibilities ahead of you.”