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School enrolment more than doubles in Southern Sudan as new academic year opens

JUBA/SUDAN, 2 April 2007 – Some 850,000 children are enrolled in school today in Southern Sudan – a major increase from an estimated 343,000 during the war. Many of these students have joined school in the single year since a campaign to significantly increase primary-school enrolment was launched on 1 April 2006.

The ‘Go to School’ initiative, led by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of the Government of Southern Sudan, and supported by UNICEF, aims to get 1.6 million children into school by the end of 2007.

Millions of school bags, books, pencils and other essential learning materials, including resources for teachers, have been delivered to schools using trucks, river barges and even helicopters in order to reach the most remote locations.

“Education takes centre stage in the reconstruction of Southern Sudan,” Education, Science and Technology Minister Michael Milli Hussein, said. “We need a determination that is unshaken to provide education to the children of Southern Sudan who have lost too many opportunities due to war.”

The Minister urged a concerted effort to achieve the overall objective of getting 1.6 million children to school: “Southern Sudan has already lost a generation to war; we can’t afford to lose yet another generation to illiteracy. Now is the time to act.”

Of the 850,000 children now in school, 34 per cent are girls – a significant milestone in overturning taboos that restrict girls from obtaining an education.

Speaking on Education Day, which coincides with the anniversary of the launch of the ‘Go to School’ initiative, the Director of UNICEF Southern Sudan, Simon Strachan, underlined the need to provide access to school as well as retain students in the classrooms. “Education is the single most important investment for Southern Sudan,” he said. “We need to do everything in our power to keep the classroom doors open for the children in Southern Sudan.”

The two-decade war that ended in January 2005 left Southern Sudan’s infrastructure in tatters. Of the 2,922 schools currently operating in the region, only 16 per cent are permanent buildings.

The 'Go to School' initiative is supporting the development of over 200 new permanent classrooms, along with the rehabilitation of nearly 300 existing ones. Over 400 emergency classroom tents have already been provided to ensure shelter for outdoor schools while permanent construction gets under way.

Over 2,500 teachers were trained in 2006. In 2007, the 'Go to School' initiative aims to reach a further 5,000 teachers through intensive English language training and fast-track training in teaching methodologies.

The ‘Go to School’ initiative provides an unprecedented opportunity to reverse the worst effects of the war, thanks to generous contributions from donors including the Governments of Japan, Denmark and the Netherlands; The US fund for UNICEF; and the German and Swiss National Committees for UNICEF, among many others.

UNICEF is appealing for $30 million for education in Southern Sudan to train teachers; construct permanent schools; build capacity; and provide the much-needed learning materials that will help pupils stay in the classroom and obtain a quality education. Pledges so far cover about 30 per cent of this amount.

About UNICEF:
UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence.  The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all boys and girls, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS.  UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.


For more information, please contact:

Bismark Swangin
Assistant Communication Officer
UNICEF Southern Sudan
Mobile:  +256 (0)477103391
Thuraya: +882 1643 339 905
Email: bswangin@unicef.org

Edward Carwardine
Senior Communication Officer
UNICEF Sudan
Mobile:  +249 (0)912 177 291
Email: ecarwardine@unicef.org
 
Wolfgang Friedl
UNICEF Regional Communication Officer
UNICEF Regional Office for Middle East and North Africa
Mobile: + 96279 573 2745
Email: wfriedl@unicef.org 


 

 

 

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