News / Africa

South Sudan's Ticking Youth Time-Bomb

South Sudan Vice-President Riek Machar said his government will have to pay more attention to the plight of the youth if the new nation is to avoid the popular uprisings happening in the Arab World.

Project Education Sudan
Project Education Sudan

A new study says the challenges facing youth in South Sudan will prove a major obstacle to its development as an independent nation.

The report used Central Equatoria as a case study, and found that 38 percent of males and 58 percent of females, aged 15 to 19, have attended school.

South Sudan Vice-President Riek Machar attended the release of the report in Juba. He said his government will have to pay more attention to the plight of the youth if the new nation is to avoid the popular uprisings happening in the Arab World.

“Youths is engine of change, an engine of development, we have seen it in our lifetime when we created the SPLM/SPLA,” he said.  “Without youth we wouldn’t have done it. Which we have seen also in the rest of the world, in particular now in the North and Middle East, changes are coming about because of youth and therefore any government will be interested to cater problems of youth.  If it is a problem of employment, the government must be there to address such a problem.”

Researcher Natalie Forcier, from the organization Population Council, that created the report, said one reason that girls have even lower education rates than boys is because many girls are illegally married off and forced to quit school before they reach adulthood.

“Some of our key findings is that we have a lot of proportion of girls who are married before the legal age of 18, according to the 2008 Child Act,” she said.  “The majority of those in school are not married, they know very little about young adults and reproductive choices and little is done about early marriages. It is things like health, poverty and education.”

The 2008 South Sudan census shows that 40 percent of women were married before turning 18 years of age, while 11percent were married before the age of 15.

Abak Rajab of the Coalition of Southern Sudan Civil Society Organizations (CASU) said changing these statistics will require changing how people think.

“On the issue of drop out of young girls in schools in Southern Sudan, I believe this is mainly a cultural issue,” he said.  “We have a belief in most of our communities that a girl at the age of 14 is already mature and so can easily engage in sexual acts and when it comes to pregnancy, you find that they are not ready.”

Abak also blames the South Sudan government for not educating the population on the child act, which outlaws the marriage of girls under the age of 18.

“The government is not committing resources to enlighten the people on the law of the Child Act,” he said. “Because this law has to be popularized among the people, especially the local community leaders like chiefs.  These are the people who have direct contact with the population. We have in some states the clash of cultural law and the national law.”

Isaiah Choi, of the Southern Sudan Center for Census, Statistics, and Evaluation, says surveys like this are necessary so that the government can plan proper social policies for the new country.

“The government can only address those issues when they are identified,” he said.  “The problems of the youths may not necessarily be the same from the rural areas or in urban. They differ from one location to another, even among Counties there are bound to be differences. So unless we are able to assess their needs, the problems that are facing them, the government will not be able to make and form decisions.  It is going to be an eye opener for our government not only at GoSS level, but at the state level, as well as at our county levels.”

Many youth in South Sudan are uneducated in part because of the more than 20 years of civil war with the north of Sudan, which made a normal childhood largely impossible. Many youth, even children, participated directly in the conflict as combatants.

The Minister of Youth, Sports and recreation Mr. Makwac Teng agrees that his government needs to do more.

“The Youth of South Sudan constitute a large part of the population and they have suffered gravely from the war and indeed were the primary actors and victims at the same time,” he said. “The scars of wars are still visible on them both physically and morally. The government of South Sudan has a responsibility to develop and empower the youths to allow them live to their full potential and make the effective contribution in all spheres of life, as individuals and as well as members of the wider society.”

The report argued that a low level of education among the youth will not only restrict their employment opportunities, but also leave the young men particularly vulnerable for recruitment into militias due to a lack of other opportunities.

Minister Teng said sports can help pull youth from negative influences.

“Through sports, the youth will acquire important skills for life, discipline, confidence, leadership, tolerance and cooperation,” he said.  “Youth participation in sports will not only reduce the likelihood of disease, but indeed serve as an effective tool for youth mobilization against harmful habits such as drug abuse, crime and other anti-social habits.”

Youth in South Sudan make up 70 percent of the population, yet they have almost no representation in the state institutions, nor are there many jobs for them to find.

Already, disenchanted militia commanders have found it easy to recruit young men to fight in their rebellions.  Often, all the youth have to be promised is food and the promise of a future position in the army, and they are ready to risk their lives fighting.



You May Like

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

Euro falls after European Central Bank announces a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program More

Saudi King’s Death Clears Succession Route

Prince Mohammed Bin Nayef is Saudi Arabia's New Crown Prince-in-waiting More

Cloud Hangs Over US Counterterrorism Efforts in Yemen

Sources say resignations of Yemen's president, government has left US anti-terror operations 'paralyzed,' yet an American military 'footprint' remains 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.
Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youthi
X
Julie Taboh
January 23, 2015 11:08 PM
Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Worldwide Photo Workshops Empower Youth

Last September, 20 young adults from South Sudan took part in a National Geographic Photo Camp. They are among hundreds of students from around the world who have learned how to use a camera to tell the stories of the people in their communities through the powerful medium of photography. Three camp participants talked about their experiences recently on a visit to Washington. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video US, Japan Offer Lessons as Eurozone Launches Huge Stimulus

The Euro currency has fallen sharply after the European Central Bank announced a bigger-than-expected $67 billion-a-month quantitative easing program Thursday - commonly seen as a form of printing new money. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London on whether the move might rescue the eurozone economy -- and what lessons have been learned from similar programs around the world.
Video

Video Nigerian Elections Pose Concern of Potential Conflict in 'Middle Belt'

Nigeria’s north-central state of Kaduna has long been the site of fighting between Muslims and Christians as well as between people of different ethnic groups. As the February elections approach, community and religious leaders are making plans they hope will keep the streets calm after results are announced. Chris Stein reports from the state capital, Kaduna.
Video

Video As Viewership Drops, Obama Puts His Message on YouTube

Ratings reports show President Obama’s State of the Union address this week drew the lowest number of viewers for this annual speech in 15 years. White House officials anticipated this, and the president has decided to take a non-traditional approach to getting his message out. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video S. Korean Businesses Want to End Trade Restrictions With North

Business leaders in South Korea are calling for President Park Geun-hye to ease trade restrictions with North Korea that were put in place in 2010 after the sinking of a South Korean warship.Pro-business groups argue that expanding trade and investment is not only good for business, it is also good for long-term regional peace and security. VOA’s Brian Padden reports.
Video

Video US Marching Bands Grow Into a Show of Their Own

The 2014 Super Bowl halftime show was the most-watched in history - attracting an estimated 115 million viewers. That event featured pop star Bruno Mars. But the halftime show tradition started with marching bands, which still dominate the entertainment at U.S. high school and college American football games. But as Enming Liu reports in this story narrated by Adrianna Zhang, marching bands have grown into a show of their own.
Video

Video Secular, Religious Kurds Face Off in Southeast Turkey

Turkey’s predominantly Kurdish southeast has been rocked by violence between religious and secular Kurds. Dorian Jones reports on the reasons behind the stand-off from the region's main city of Diyarbakir, which suffered the bloodiest fighting.
Video

Video Kenya: Misuse of Antibiotics Leading to Resistance by Immune System

In Kenya, the rise of drug resistant bacteria could reverse the gains made by medical science over diseases that were once treatable. Kenyans could be at risk of fatalities as a result if the power in antibiotics is not preserved. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story from Nairobi.
Video

Video Solar-Powered Plane Getting Ready to Circumnavigate Globe

Pilots of the solar plane that already set records flying without a drop of fuel are close to making their first attempt to fly the craft around the globe. They plan to do it in 25 flying days over a five month period. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video How Experts Decide Ethiopia Has the Best Coffee

Ethiopia’s coffee has been ranked as the best in the world by an international group of coffee connoisseurs. Not surprisingly, coffee is a top export for the country. But at home it is a source of pride. Marthe van der Wolf in Addis Ababa decided to find out what makes the bean and brew so special and how experts make their determinations.
Video

Video Yazidi Refugees at Center of Political Fight Between Turkey, Kurds

The treatment of thousands of Yazidis refugees who fled to Turkey to escape attacks by Islamic State militants has become the center of a dispute between the Turkish government and the country's pro-Kurdish movement. VOA's Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video World’s Richest 1% Forecast to Own More Than Half of Global Wealth

The combined wealth of the world's richest 1 percent will overtake that of the remaining 99 percent at some point in 2016, according to the anti-poverty charity Oxfam. Campaigners are demanding that policymakers take action to address the widening gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’, as Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.

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

All About America

AppleAndroid