News / Africa

South Sudan Conflict Interrupting Children's Education

A displaced girl sits a school-leaving exam at the U.N. compound in Juba in January, 2014. The exams, which were due to begin on Dec. 16, were delayed when fighting broke out in the capital.
A displaced girl sits a school-leaving exam at the U.N. compound in Juba in January, 2014. The exams, which were due to begin on Dec. 16, were delayed when fighting broke out in the capital.
Mugume Davis Rwakaringi
Children displaced in South Sudan by four months of fighting not only face a greater risk of disease and malnutrition, but their education is also suffering, analysts and NGOs say.

“The environment in which these children are living is deplorable," said Zachariah Diing Akol, a director at the Sudd Institute think tank, referring to U.N. compounds that have been turned into camps for tens of thousands of internally displaced South Sudanese, most of whom are women and children.

"Shelters are not available in some places ... tents are what these children get. And some are sometimes directly under the trees. That exposes them to diseases,” Akol said.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) warned last week that as many as 50,000 children in South Sudan could die of hunger before the end of the year unless more aid is provided.

Humanitarian leaders from the United States, United Nations and European Union said at the weekend that they are already seeing signs of malnutrition among children in South Sudan, and called for aid to be stepped up immediately.

Education taking a back seat

Akol said even if children do not die of hunger, disease or as a direct consequence of combat, they are still missing out on educational opportunities.
 
“Education has to take a backseat, unfortunately," Akol said.

"To stop blood and ... lives being taken, I think takes precedence. But definitely children will continue to be out of school if the war continues,” he said.

UNICEF spokeswoman Doune Porter said the U.N. agency is doing what it can to provide as many children as possible with an uninterrupted education.
 
“To be able to introduce some kind of normality, some kind of routine by going to school is very important," Porter said.

"And one of the things that we are doing in some areas we can reach is to bring in tents – what we call 'temporary learning spaces' – and we are working with teachers so that some basic education can be continued for children,” she said.
 
More than 170 temporary learning spaces have been set up so far, Porter said. 

Before conflict, adult literacy at 27 percent
 
Before the current conflict broke out on Dec. 15, only slightly more than one in four South Sudanese adults could read and write, and seven in 10 children between the ages of six and 17 years of age had never set foot inside a classroom, according to the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Only one in 10 children completed primary school, according to the local UNICEF office.

In January, the U.N. Mission in South Sudan hosted school-leaving exams for people aged 14 and older, who had sought refuge inside the U.N. compound in Juba.​
Displaced South Sudanese sit the school-leaving exam at a U.N. compound in Juba in January. The week-long exams were supposed to start Dec. 16, but were delayed when fighting broke out.Displaced South Sudanese sit the school-leaving exam at a U.N. compound in Juba in January. The week-long exams were supposed to start Dec. 16, but were delayed when fighting broke out.
x
Displaced South Sudanese sit the school-leaving exam at a U.N. compound in Juba in January. The week-long exams were supposed to start Dec. 16, but were delayed when fighting broke out.
Displaced South Sudanese sit the school-leaving exam at a U.N. compound in Juba in January. The week-long exams were supposed to start Dec. 16, but were delayed when fighting broke out.
Four hundred people took the week-long exams, which were originally supposed to begin on Dec. 16.

Porter and Akol acknowledged that ongoing fighting limits their ability to respond to the needs -- including providing them with an education -- of children across the country. 

Akol echoed a call by the international community and aid agencies for a cessation of hostilities based on an agreement signed in January. They appealed for government and opposition forces to give humanitarian workers unimpeded access to people in need in South Sudan. But the agreement has been violated many times since then.

But, Akol said, the only way to avoid further suffering and death and to ensure children's schooling is not interrupted for too long, is for both sides in the conflict to stop fighting.

You May Like

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid