Education challenges in South Sudan
South Sudan’s education indicators remain among the worst in the world, despite increases in school enrolment over the past few years. It is estimated that more than one million primary school aged children, mostly from rural areas, are not in school, while the few schools that do exist are not conducive to learning. Low rates of primary school completion and high gender, geographic and wealth disparities pose enormous challenges to the development of South Sudan.
Decades of neglect, and years of civil war, have left South Sudan with very limited educational opportunities, a shattered school infrastructure and a lack of qualified teachers and basic learning materials. Generations of South Sudanese people have gone without access to education and the country’s literacy rate is the world’s lowest at only 27%.
The number of people who have been excluded from education is enormous. The school age population includes thousands of returnees and internally displaced children. Many more young people have never acquired basic literacy, numeracy or life skills. Girls and women are among those who fare the worst in accessing education. Parents with very limited means will often prioritise boys’ education, and girls are often kept at home to ensure their bride price. A girl in South Sudan is three times more likely to die in childbirth than she is to finish primary school.
The lack of adult literacy and education greatly impedes people’s ability to engage in economic activities and hinders the growth and peaceful development of the country. There is a need for recognized, non-formal alternative education options to help provide people with the essential literacy, numeracy and skills they need to support themselves.
The challenges of the formal school system also need to be addressed to bring an end to a cycle that leaves people without any access to education. Investment needs to be made in all aspects of public education. Fewer than 50% of schools have a permanent building. Most communities have no learning materials, resources or training centers. The low number of educated adults means there are very few educated and qualified teachers.
CMW priorities in education include:
1. Improving the quality of teaching and learning through innovative and flexible teacher training and promoting literacy and reading.
2.Strengthening parents’ and communities’ involvement in education to foster equal access to education and promote peace building.
3.Improving enrolment and attainment for excluded children including displaced children, girls, and children with disabilities.
4.Promoting women’s and girls’ education through community based support for girls’ education and accelerated women’s learning programmes.
5.Establishing community education hubs which are user-friendly and improve access to training programmes, learning and teaching materials and the internet in remote communities.
6.Providing recognized, non-formal education as alternative education options for learners trying to achieve literacy and develop skills outside the formal school system.
7.Providing livelihood education alongside literacy and basic education to support employment and self-employment of out of school youth.