Following nearly 50 years of civil war, the newly divided countries of Sudan and South Sudan remain in ongoing economic recovery. Although conflict sets the stage for poverty in South Sudan, the young country’s lack of educational opportunities perpetuates the problem. As of 2017, a jarring 72% of primary school-aged children in South Sudan do not attend school. Of these 2 million children, 400,000 are out of school due to displacement and chronic insecurity. Here are seven facts about education and poverty in South Sudan.

    7 Facts About Education and Poverty in South Sudan

    1. More educational funding would reduce youth crime involvement. It is no secret that a quality education prevents crime activity among any youth population. However, extreme poverty in South Sudan compromises the quality of most of the country’s schools. The absence of extracurricular club offerings contributes to an ongoing cycle of violence in South Sudan. On the other hand, schools that UNICEF funded benefitted from student governments, peace clubs and organized volunteer activities. UNICEF also funded the South Sudan Youth Development Policy, which the government of South Sudan later developed. These programs effectively build peace and reduce youth crime in strained communities. More widespread funding for such programs would further prevent youth violence and armed conflict.
    2. Sudan’s distinct educational tracks limit the number of qualified teachers. To account for the poverty most school-aged children experience, South Sudan implemented an alternative education system . In an effort to reduce the long-term cost of education, this system condenses an eight-year curriculum into a four-year program. This program instructs students in English, which excludes many qualified teachers who received training to teach in Arabic. Although this program is more accessible, this exclusion compromises the quality of education students can gain.
    3. Children cannot physically attend one-third of schools in South Sudan. Long-standing political conflicts in South Sudan have damaged and destroyed over one-third of schools. These schools rely on the assistance of foreign aid organizations, such as USAID, in order to redevelop into functional institutions. USAID alone has provided more than 514,800 conflict-affected children with makeshift learning spaces since 2014.
    4. Poverty-ridden families rely on agricultural work. Many school-aged children in rural South Sudan raise cattle in pastoral communities rather than attending school. A 2013 study found that parents in cattle-keeping communities valued practical skills (such as cattle treatment and milk production) over formal education. Since agricultural income accounts for a child’s immediate needs, many families do not see formal education as a practical option. Because funding for schools often relies on attendance and retention rates, funding falls particularly low in pastoral, non-urban areas. While the education sector itself does not prioritize this problem, donors like USAID and FAO fund more flexible education options for pastoral communities.
    5. Girls have to overcome more obstacles to obtain an education. Young women living in poverty often drop out of school to pursue arranged marriages because of financial, cultural and religious obligations. As a result, only one-sixth of women are literate in comparison to two-fifths of men. However, children born to educated mothers have a 50% higher chance of survival. In turn, prioritizing young women’s education and literacy is vital. Though more work is necessary to enroll more girls in school, donor initiatives such as DFID’s Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) have brought more attention to the issue.
    6. Socioeconomic disparities impact access to education and future employment. In a study by Learning for Peace, representatives expressed that nepotism and tribalism often determine access to education, training opportunities and jobs. This results in unequal opportunities across states, which increases tension within the youth population. One youth representative said that “Youth who have their relatives in those places, they have those opportunities [and] it creates a gap […]. This brings conflict […], especially as a young country which has come out of war, where people have many expectations to get money to sustain themselves.” The concentration of opportunities in particular states, such as Juba, affects the cycle of poverty in South Sudan.
    7. Inclusive learning requires more funding. The government of South Sudan invests minimally in the development of education. This lack of resources prevents the implementation of an inclusive education curriculum based on the language of instruction (Arabic or English) and curriculum content (Christian or secular). Curriculum development at the state level is slowly establishing a more inclusive national identity for students in South Sudan, though more work is necessary at the county level. Such work will further increase the inclusion of different religions, cultures and histories in South Sudan’s schools.

    Ultimately, funding education in South Sudan could revive the country’s economy and, more importantly, ensure that more children survive. It is imperative to support the 2 million children who cannot afford an education or who lack access to well-funded schools. In order to help break the cycle of poverty in South Sudan, foreign aid and other investments must provide much-needed educational resources.

    Stella Grimaldi Photo: Flickr

    Why is South Sudan education poor?
    Education is hindered by poverty, child marriage and cultural and religious views that also hinder girls' education. It is acknowledged that these factors put the children's future -- and the future of the country -- at risk. South Sudan faces major challenges. more
    Is South Sudan poor?
    As a consequence, South Sudan remains severely impacted fragility, economic stagnation, and instability a decade after independence. Poverty is ubiquitous and is being reinforced by ongoing intercommunal conflict, displacement, and external shocks. more
    Why is South Sudan still poor?
    Between 1955 and 2005, Sudan was engulfed in a brutal civil war, which left countless dead and homeless. After a failed peace agreement, South Sudan seceded from the north in 2011. However, fighting broke out in the country in 2013 and continues off and on to this day. more
    What makes South Sudan so poor?
    In South Sudan, poverty and food insecurity are prevalent despite the country's abundance of natural resources. Challenges include civil wars and prolonged violence. These challenges contribute to a significant number of people living below the poverty line within the nation. more
    Why is South Sudan so poor?
    In South Sudan, poverty and food insecurity are prevalent despite the country's abundance of natural resources. Challenges include civil wars and prolonged violence. These challenges contribute to a significant number of people living below the poverty line within the nation. more
    Is South Sudan rich or poor?
    Economy of South Sudan more
    Is South Sudan poor country?
    South Sudan became the world's newest country and Africa's 55th nation in July 9, 2011.Economy of South Sudan. more
    Why is education so poor in South Sudan?
    Some of the out-of-school children are living in pastoral communities, moving with their cattle and are not able to attend regular classes. The largest group of out-of-school children in South Sudan are girls. Poverty, child marriage and cultural and religious views all hinder girls' education. more
    Is South Sudan poor or rich?
    poverty According to the World Bank's latest estimates, about 82% of South Sudanese people endure poverty, surviving on less than $1.90 per day. An Abundance of Natural Resources. Although South Sudan falls high on the poverty scale, the country has many natural resources. more
    Why does South Sudan have poor education?
    Many issues prevent the educational infrastructure in South Sudan from reaching its full potential, including poverty, governmental failures, ongoing violence, poor health of its citizens, and inaccessibility to schools that are overcrowded, underfunded, and operated by unqualified teachers. more
    Why is South Sudan called South Sudan?
    Some 99% of southern Sudanese voted for independence from the north of Sudan in a referendum held in January. The name decision was announced after a meeting of the top committee of the south's ruling SPLM party. more


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