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

Video Miami Cubans Divided on New US Policy

While older, more conservative Cuban Americans have promoted anti-Castro political movement for years, younger generations say economically, it is time for change More

2014 Sees Dramatic Uptick in Boko Haram Abductions

Militants suspected in latest mass kidnapping of over 100 people in Gumsuri, Nigeria on Sunday More

Video Cuba Deal Is Major Victory for Pope

Role of Francis hailed throughout US, Latin America - though some Cuban-American Catholics have mixed feelings 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.
Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacksi
X
December 19, 2014 12:45 AM
The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video Sudan School Becomes Target of Aerial Attacks

The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. Adam Bailes visited Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region and reports many children are simply too scared to go to school
Video

Video VOA Reporter Tours Devastated Peshawar School

Islamist militants wearing military uniforms and strapped with explosives attacked a military run school Tuesday in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar. At least 141 people were killed in the horrific attack, most of them young students. VOA reporter Ayaz Gul visited the devastated school and attended the funeral of the principal who courageously tried to save her students from the deadly attack.
Video

Video Nigerians Fleeing Boko Haram Languish in Camp Near Capital

In its five-year effort to impose Islamic law in northeastern Nigeria, the Boko Haram extremist group has killed thousands of people and forced hundreds of thousands to flee. Some of those who ran for their lives now live in squalor on the edges of the capital, Abuja. Chris Stein reports for VOA.
Video

Video Putin Says Russian Economy Will Emerge Stronger

Russian President Vladimir Putin has said his country's sinking economy will not only recover but also become stronger, despite falling oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports.
Video

Video Detained Turkish Journalists Follow Teachings of US-Based Preacher

The Turkish government’s jailing of critical journalists has sparked international condemnation and is being seen as an effort to undermine the followers of an ailing Turkish preacher based in the United States. VOA religion reporter Jerome Socolovsky has more.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.

All About America

AppleAndroid