Development of education strategies for South Sudan aimed at building an inclusive, peaceful, and resilient society
Dr. Mahmoud Kaleem
South Sudan is facing an education emergency. Recent years have seen some progress toward the Education for All (EFA) goals, with South Sudan’s people demonstrating extraordinary resilience in their efforts to expand learning opportunities for their children. Yet Africa’s newest nation still has some of the world’s worst indicators for education. Low levels of enrollment and transition to secondary school, poor education quality, and high levels of gender disparity typify the current state of affairs. With the country facing a protracted fiscal crisis, there is now a real danger that progress toward the EFA goals will stall or be thrown into reverse gear. Yet this outcome is avoidable and accelerated progress is possible. But in the absence of a strong commitment on the part of donor governments and the country’s other development partners, South Sudan’s children and youth face a future of diminished opportunity in education. Such an outcome would have devastating consequences, education holds the key to South Sudan’s future. It is vital to poverty reduction and the development of strategies aimed at building an inclusive, peaceful, and resilient society. With one of the world’s youngest populations, South Sudan needs education to create jobs and strengthen livelihoods. And without expanded opportunities for schooling, there will be no progress toward gender equity. This paper makes the case for a concerted international effort to pull South Sudan back from the brink of a reversal in education. It starts from a simple premise: There will be no winners from a failure to act decisively. The Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS) needs to demonstrate to its citizens that the country’s children have the prospect of a better future and South Sudan’s parents see education as the key to that future. Several donors have provided strong support to South Sudan. Their financial and technical support has helped to put in place the foundations of a national education system. Allowing these foundations to be eroded would represent an inefficient use of scarce aid resources. Ultimately, however, the real losers from inaction will be South Sudan’s children. The paper sets out concrete proposals in a number of areas with the potential to generate tangible gains for South Sudan’s children, while at the same time strengthening capacity in the education system. It should be emphasized that the proposals are not intended as a comprehensive response to the wide range of challenges facing South Sudan. The objective, set out in the terms of reference for the ministerial summit, is to identify a small number of areas where strengthened cooperation might add value to current efforts.