Transforming Lives Through Education: ‘Education Cannot Wait’ Programme in South Sudan
Social, Economic, and Political Challenges in South Sudan: A Barrier to Education
Challenges in South Sudan, including social, economic, and political issues, have created significant obstacles to accessing education, particularly for the most vulnerable groups such as girls and those with disabilities. In 2020, approximately 2.8 million children were out of school, and by 2021, only 27% of the population could read or write. The inequality is evident in the low enrollment rates, with 63% of children enrolled in primary education, but a sharp decline to 13% in secondary education.
The Effects of Social Stigma and Shortage of Resources on Education
Factors such as displacement, conflict, economic instability, and societal stigma make it difficult to achieve education in South Sudan. These challenges are amplified for children with disabilities, who face social stigmatization and inaccessible learning spaces. The shortage of resources and a predominantly male teaching force further complicate the barriers to education, especially for girls and children with disabilities.
The Dismal Plight of the Girl Child in Education
The situation is particularly dire for girls in South Sudan. Cultural norms, traditional practices, early and forced marriages, among other factors, contribute to higher dropout rates for girls. At the secondary level, only 31% of girls remain enrolled in school. When considering girls with disabilities, the challenges become even more significant.
The Initiative: Education Cannot Wait
‘Education Cannot Wait’ is a unique initiative led by Light for the World, Save the Children, Plan International, UNESCO, the Norwegian Refugee Council, and Finn Church Aid. The initiative aims to address the educational barriers in South Sudan and is funded through a multi-year resilience program. Its objective is to provide safe, inclusive, and quality education to crisis-affected learners in fourteen counties across the country.
Inclusion and Equality: The Paramount Objective
The program’s primary focus is to create an environment that encourages the education of children with disabilities and girls. The overarching goal is to reach 135,000 learners, particularly returnees and internally displaced people (IDPs), to ensure a promising future for crisis-affected children in South Sudan.
The Strategy to Break Barriers and Promote Education
The initiative acknowledges the barriers of inaccessible learning spaces, societal stigma, and lack of psychosocial support. The program plans to overcome these challenges by constructing inclusive and accessible learning spaces and running mobilization campaigns to challenge negative narratives against education.
Empowering Teachers, Empowering Learners
Achieving quality education requires adequately trained teachers. The initiative plans to achieve this through comprehensive training programs that improve teaching approaches and enhance inclusivity. The ultimate vision is to strengthen the South Sudanese education system, making it more resilient and responsive to the crisis situation.
Rallying for Change: Inclusive Education
‘Education Cannot Wait’ embodies a collective effort to address disability inclusion, gender-based violence, and community involvement in education. The commitment to transform education is not only a necessity but a requirement to ensure that the children of South Sudan not only survive but thrive through the power of education.
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