ON ANNIVERSARY OF “GO TO SCHOOL” CAMPAIGN MORE THAN A MILLION CHILDREN BENEFIT FROM EDUCATION IN SOUTHERN SUDAN
Juba, 1 April 2008. As children in Southern Sudan celebrate the second anniversary of the UNICEF-supported ‘Go to School’ initiative, 1.3 million pupils are expected to enter classes this year, compared to just 340,000 in 2005.
The Initiative, launched a year after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, is led by the Government of Southern Sudan’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and aims to bring enrolment levels to over 2 million, while supporting children already in classes.
The Minister of Education of the Government of Southern Sudan, His Excellency Job Dhoruai said, “The commitment of the Government of Southern Sudan and our partners offers us the strength to build a comprehensive education system. I am thrilled by the progress we have made so far – the challenge for us now is to travel the next mile to ensure every Southern Sudanese child has access to quality education”.
Millions of school bags, books, pencils and other essential learning materials including those for teachers have been distributed by truck, boat and even on foot communities often in remote areas, with limited infrastructure.
Speaking on the occasion of Southern Sudan’s Education Day, the UNICEF Country Representative in Sudan, Mr Ted Chaiban underlined the need to build on gains made so far to enhance quality. “Education is the single most important investment for Southern Sudan. We need a determination that is unshaken to get every Southern Sudanese child into school and receiving a quality education”, he said.
Of the 1.3 million children now in school, 34 per cent are girls, a significant milestone in overturning taboos that had restricted girls from attending classes. During the war less than 1 per cent of girls completed their primary education, while an assessment of learning spaces conducted in 2006 showed that of the 2,922 schools in Southern Sudan, only 16 per cent had permanent buildings.
In addition to promoting enrolment, during the past two years UNICEF has supported the Government of Southern Sudan to develop over 200 new permanent classrooms, as well as rehabilitating nearly 300 existing classrooms. Over 400 emergency classroom tents have also been provided to ensure shelter for outdoor schools while permanent construction gets underway.
UNICEF has also supported the training of 5,000 teachers in Southern Sudan, as well as providing assistance to the development and implementation of an English-language based curriculum as well as ongoing intensive English language courses for teachers.
“The focus this year is on the construction of more permanent classrooms, continued teacher training and strengthening of an information management system which has been developed this year as a monitoring and planning tool,” said Chaiban. “By working closely with the Government of Southern Sudan and other partners, we are confident that more and more children will enjoy their right to a quality education, delivered in a quality environment.”
But, the UNICEF Representative added that reaching this goal will require committed investment. “UNICEF is appealing for US$ 15 million for its education programmes in Southern Sudan this year, which will provide the much needed learning materials to keep children coming to school, the training of teachers, construction of permanent schools and vital capacity building”
The Go To School Initiative is supported by a number of donors, including the governments of Denmark, Ireland, The Netherlands and Japan, as well as UNICEF National Committees in Germany, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States.