South Sudan: Conflict Keeps Half of Children out of School
More than half of South Sudanese children are not in school – the highest proportion of any country – due to ongoing conflict in the country, according to the UN.
UNICEF, the UN children’s agency, has revealed 51 percent of children between the ages of 6 and 15 in South Sudan are kept out of school, as government forces and rebels continue to fight, despite a peace agreement having been reached in August.
Only 1 in 10 students finish primary education
The latest figures mean 1.8 million children are missing from class in South Sudan. Another worrying statistic is that only one in 10 pupils complete primary education in the country, with the vast majority abandoning school before the age of 15.
The civil war has been blamed for the sharp rise in absentees and UNICEF says more than 800 schools have been demolished since war broke out in 2013. Meanwhile, budget has also been highlighted as a major obstacle for education in South Sudan.
“There is a very, very low budget from the government to the education sector,” UNICEF’s chief of education for South Sudan, Phuong T. Nguyen, said in a statement. “It is not holding steady and we see a decline.”
S. Sudan’s promising start foiled by conflict
South Sudan’s education sector got off to a promising start when the new nation first gained independence in 2011. Student enrollment initially increased, but civil war soon followed, bringing renewed danger to major parts of the country.
The war has also demanded heavy defense spending, which takes a large chunk of the national budget. Only 4 percent now goes to the education sector, leaving the country without enough qualified teachers or buildings to cater for those who wish to attend class.
Peace talks between government and rebel representatives are ongoing, however, progress is being compromised by persistent violence in the country, even as negotiations are carried out.
“A young girl hangs the South Sudan flag (5925619011)” by USAID Africa Bureau – A young girl hangs the South Sudan flag. Licensed under Public Domain via Commons.