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

Captured IS Militants Explain Why They Fought

Fighters from Turkey, Syria tell VOA Kurdish Service what drew them to extremism, jihad More

Security Experts Split on Kenyan Barrier Wall

Experts divided on whether initiative aiming to keep out al-Shabab militants is long-awaited solution or misguided effort More

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Officials say they hope to turn Manila into the next Macau, which has long been Asia’s gambling hub 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.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More