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

FIFA Indictments Put Gold Cup Tournament Under Cloud

Experts say US indictments could lead to charges of other world soccer officials, and lead to major shakeup in sport's governance More

Video Seoul Sponsors Korean Unification Fair

At a recent even in Seoul, border communities promoted benefits of increased cooperation and North Korean defectors shared stories of life since the war More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: Iraq President Vows Fight to Death With IS

In wide-ranging interview, Fuad Masum describes new type of fight that will take time to win 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.
Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardshipi
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
May 28, 2015 6:48 PM
Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Forced to Return Home, Afghan Refugees Face Increased Hardship

Undocumented refugees returning to Afghanistan from Pakistan have no jobs, no support system, and no home return to, and international aid agencies say they and the government are overwhelmed and under-resourced. Ayesha Tanzeem has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Britain Makes Controversial Move to Crack Down on Extremism

Britain is moving to tighten controls on extremist rhetoric, even when it does not incite violence or hatred -- a move that some are concerned might unduly restrict basic freedoms. It is an issue many countries are grappling with as extremist groups gain power in the Middle East, fueled in part by donations and fighters from the West. VOA’s Al Pessin reports from London.
Video

Video Floodwaters Recede in Houston, but Rain Continues

Many parts of Texas are recovering from one of the worst natural disasters to hit the southwestern state. Heavy rains on Monday and early Tuesday caused rivers to swell in eastern and central Texas, washing away homes and killing at least 13 people. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Houston, floodwaters are receding slowly in the country's fourth-largest city, and there likely is to be more rain in the coming days.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Al-Shabab Recruitment Drive Still on In Kenya

The al-Shabab militants that have long battled for control of Somalia also have recruited thousands of young people in Kenya, leaving many families disconsolate. Mohammed Yusuf recently visited the Kenyan town of Isiolo, and met with relatives of those recruited, as well as a many who have helped with the recruiting.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.

VOA Blogs