A generation of children in South Sudan is being deprived of a fair chance in life. More than two million children, or over 70 per cent, are out of school in South Sudan, putting at risk their futures and the future of the country. Some of the out-of-school children are living in pastoral communities, moving with their cattle and are not able to attend regular classes. The largest group of out-of-school children in South Sudan are girls. Poverty, child marriage and cultural and religious views all hinder girls’ education.
Following the handover of the of the school by UNICEF, the children chanted “We have the right to eat, we have the right to live, we have the right to education!”
The chanting of children in Eastern Equatoria State’s rural Iballany community was loud and joyful as they and their teachers, both categories clearly alive, received a precious gift aimed at better responding to their demand for institutionalized learning of a building containing three brand new classrooms.
Head of the UN peacekeeping mission’s field office in Torit, Caroline Waudo, said “We hope that this handover of new facilities will lead to more boys and girls in Iballany and neighbouring communities enrolling and remaining at school, where they can learn and co-exist peacefully,” with each of the classrooms accommodating 60 desks.
The construction was implemented by the national non-governmental organisation Community Needs Initiative and funded by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan was a Quick Impact Project, local initiatives which didn’t cost more than 50,000 USD and typically finished within three months.
A child born to an educated mother has a 50 per cent higher chance of survival. The risk of child marriage and early pregnancy is lower if girls stay in school. Educated parents are more likely to send their children to school. UNICEF is supporting the building of classrooms, the education and training of teachers, the development and printing of textbooks and working with communities to encourage parents and caregivers to send their children to school.
Education in South Sudan is modelled after the educational system of the Republic Of Sudan Primary education consists of eight years, followed by four years of secondary education, and then four years of university instruction; the 8 + 4 + 4 system has been in place since 1990. The primary language at all levels is English as compared to the Republic of Sudan, where the language of instruction is Arabic. There is a severe shortage of English teachers and English-speaking teachers in the scientific and technical fields.
The Iballany community school, established in 2010 but in disuse for years following the outbreak of civil war in 2013, desperately needed an expansion. Children in the area were often faced with walking several kilometers to attend classes in Torit town, with many of them never enrolling or dropping out.
During the handover, the State Ministry of Education pledged to support the learning institution as best it can. Educating all young girls and boys is a collective responsibility. We will provide the school with assistance, stationery and additional teaching staff to boost learning. The Minister of Education in the state Lopeyok Sami Aperegole promised officials from UNICEF.
The recent 2013 South Sudanese Civil War that resulted in a division of the state of Sudan dates back to Second Sudanese Civil War, which was a national conflict between the majority Muslim, Arab northern leadership administration and Christian, African South.
With the limited social services destroyed, hundreds displaced, and educational facilities closed. the implications for education increased significantly. These consequences extend to relief operations, as finding individuals with an adequate level of schooling and education to be trained as health relief workers became more difficult with time.
After 5 years, in 1998, a total of 900 schools emerged in rural areas owned by the SPLA in southern Sudan. These schools were facilitated by local communities and guided by relief wings in the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA) and the Relief Association of South Sudan (RASS).
There has been very limited support given to schools in most areas of southern Sudan up to 1993. While some individual NGOs as well as UNICEF offered some training materials for classes, most of the external development efforts were decentralized.
As a result, the Education Coordination Committee (ECC) of the Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) in southern Sudan was established to consolidate the diverse efforts not only to better education in the SPLA-held areas in southern Sudan but also to support existing education structures under the SRRA and RASS
Over the years, the peacekeeping mission has completed 27 Quick Impact Projects in Eastern Equatoria State alone, including classrooms, safe houses, court halls, police posts and the provision of solar powered systems of different kinds. The initiatives that have been funded have been selected based on the needs expressed by local communities across the state.
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