© UNHCR/M. Pearson

© UNHCR/M. Pearson

Why education will foster stability in an independent South Sudan

The new country in the making is promoting education to build its future

“Education is one of the most vital foundations for a human development take-off in South Sudan – and the time to put those foundations in place is right now.”
Irina Bokova, Director-General, UNESCO

With formal independence pronounced on 9 July 2011, the world’s newest nation, the Republic of South Sudan, faces a daunting state-building task that necessitates laying solid foundations in order to ensure a peaceful and sustainable future. “The journey to statehood is difficult” recognizes UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova, but “education lies at the heart of building a healthy and resilient society”. Security surely prevails, but the state’s future  depends also on the education of its children. Two decades of war have destroyed the South Sudanese education system: it is left with limited infrastructure and poor institutional support mechanisms. The Ministry of Education (MoE) faces high illiteracy levels, with only 38% of literate adults, great gender disparities (only 37% of pupils are girls), low (although rising) school enrolments, and mass youth unemployment. Still, there is tremendous political will for improvement; this positive energy needs to be fostered by the international community. 

Jointly with UNICEF, IIEP has been commissioned by the MoE to provide technical assistance on an Education Sector Strategic Plan draft that will encompass the ambitious education goals of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS). The Institute can rely on its extensive research and field experience to advise the GoSS on capacity assessment and resource management strategizing in a post-conflict environment. IIEP has also contributed to training South Sudanese education professionals. These planners are now leading figures in the field of education and have actively contributed to the construction of the State within the Ministries. “IIEP has given me the opportunity to research and learn the best strategies in education planning. This knowledge has empowered me in my daily work” (George Mogga, former IIEP trainee, Director of Planning and Budgeting, MoE).

According to the 2011 EFA Global Monitoring Report, launched in June by UNESCO and the MoE, many challenges but also opportunities are on the horizon: constructing an efficient educational system that will cater for future generations demands long-term planning. The MoE will need to coordinate and streamline with the other ministries, in particular concerning the budgeting process. IIEP will continue supporting the GoSS throughout the construction and consolidation process.