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

Is West Doing Enough to Tackle Islamic State?

There is growing uncertainty over whether West’s response to ISIS is adequate More

China Crackdown on Dual Citizens Causes Concern

New policy encourages reporting people who obtain citizenship in another country, but retain Chinese citizenship; move spurs sharp debate More

Video Coalition to Fight Islamic State Could Reward Assad

Losing ground to Islamic State fighters, Syria's government says it is ready to cooperate with international community 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.
Ukraine Accuses Russia of Territorial Incursionsi
X
Zlatica Hoke
August 28, 2014 4:07 AM
Ukraine says a key border town (Novoazovsk) and surrounding areas of in southeastern Ukraine have fallen under the control of Russia's military. President Poroshenko says "Russian troops have actually been brought into Ukraine." Despite repeated denials from Moscow, Ukraine accuses the Kremlin of providing weapons and fighters to separatists in eastern Ukraine, toward the Russian leadership's alleged goal of annexing that strategic territory. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Ukraine Accuses Russia of Territorial Incursions

Ukraine says a key border town (Novoazovsk) and surrounding areas of in southeastern Ukraine have fallen under the control of Russia's military. President Poroshenko says "Russian troops have actually been brought into Ukraine." Despite repeated denials from Moscow, Ukraine accuses the Kremlin of providing weapons and fighters to separatists in eastern Ukraine, toward the Russian leadership's alleged goal of annexing that strategic territory. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Made in America Socks Get Toehold in Online Fashion Market

Three young entrepreneurs are hoping to revolutionize the high-end sock industry by introducing all-American creations of their own. And they’re doing most of it the old-fashioned way. VOA’s Julie Taboh recently caught up with them to learn what goes into making their one-of-a-kind socks.
Video

Video Americans, Ex-Pats Send Relief Supplies to West Africa

Health organizations from around the world are sending supplies and specialists to the West African countries that are dealing with the worst Ebola outbreak in history. On a smaller scale, ordinary Americans and African expatriates living in the United States are doing the same. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video America's Most Popular Artworks Displayed in Public Places

Public places in cities across America were turned into open-air art galleries in August. Pictures of the nation’s most popular artworks were displayed on billboards, bus shelters, subway platforms and more. The idea behind “Art Everywhere,” a collaborative campaign by five major museums is to allow more people to enjoy art and learn about the country’s culture and history. Faiza Elmasry has more.
Video

Video Chinese Doctors Use 3-D Spinal Implant

A Chinese boy suffering from a debilitating bone disease has become the first patient with a part of his spine created in a three-dimensional printer. Doctors say he will soon regain normal mobility. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Uneasy Calm Settles Over Israel, Gaza Strip

Israel and the Gaza Strip have been calm since a cease-fire set in Tuesday evening, ending seven weeks of hostilities. Hamas, which controls Gaza, declared victory. Israelis were more wart. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jerusalem.
Video

Video India’s Leprosy Battle Stymied by Continuing Stigma

Medical advancements in the treatment of leprosy have greatly diminished its impact around the world, largely eliminating the disease from most countries. India made great strides in combating leprosy, but still accounts for a majority of the world’s new cases each year, and the number of newly infected Indians is rising - more than 130,000 recorded last year. Doctors there say the problem has more to do with society than science. Shaikh Azizur Rahman reports from Kolkata.
Video

Video Scientists Unlock Mystery of Bird Flocks

How can flocks of birds, schools of fish or herds of antelope suddenly change direction -- all the individuals adjusting their movement in concert, at seemingly the same time? British researchers now have some insights into this behavior, which has puzzled scientists for a long time. VOA's George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid