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South Sudan, 25 August 2015: Bringing education to the children of Pibor

© UNICEF/South Sudan/2015/McKeever
Girls attend school in Pibor Girls Primary.

UNICEF and partners launch Back to Learning campaign in Pibor

PIBOR, South Sudan, 25 August 2015 – A national campaign to increase school attendance and participation was launched today in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.

The Back-to-Learning (BTL) Initiative provides an opportunity to children and adolescents who have never stepped foot in a classroom and those who have been forced to drop out of school because of poverty, gender discrimination or conflict.

“Before the current conflict, South Sudan was already one of the most difficult places in the world to be a child,” said Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan. “Fewer than half its children attended school and just one in 10 completed primary school.”

In response, earlier this year UNICEF launched Back-to-Learning. Already 160,000 children have benefitted from the initiative, which targets 400,000 out-of-school children across the country. Children in Pibor and surrounding areas will now also benefit from BTL.


The United States has been one of the largest donors to UNICEF’s Education-in-Emergencies program, which includes support for the Pibor school projects.

UNICEF has received a $23.5 million grant from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement projects aimed at delivering education services to conflict-affected children and adolescents.

“USAID has been supporting education in South Sudan since the liberation struggle,” said U.S. Ambassador to South Sudan Molly Phee.

“Educating the next generation is the foundation of a peaceful and prosperous future for any country. But for decades, the children of South Sudan have had to forfeit the opportunity to learn to read and write because of warfare.”

“When the current conflict erupted, we were determined to help ensure that this generation of children does not suffer because of the failure of their leaders. So we worked with UNICEF and other donors to bring education to the children, reaching them at UN compounds and other locations where they are sheltering,” added Ambassador Phee.


Conflict has deprived Pibor, one of the least developed areas of the country, of the education resources it needs. Fighting has also forced out-of-school girls into early marriage, while boys as young as 14 joined or were conscripted into armed groups.

In January, the Cobra Faction began releasing children from its ranks. The last group of 283 children was freed in April, bringing to 1,757 the total number released in the Greater Pibor Area; 145 of these children have started attending classes at the Pibor Primary School.

The BTL initiative is supported by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, UN Agencies, NGOs, donors and local communities, including thousands of teachers, community leaders and parents.

Back to Learning commits US$100 for every child returning to the classroom. The initiative is being supported by the United States, Japan, Norway, Canada, the EU and the UK Department for International Development.

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UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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For more information, please contact:

Marianna Zaichykova, Communications Specialist, UNICEF South Sudan, Mobile: +211 (0) 956 256 285 Email:

Simon Peter Apiku, Communication Officer; Mobile: +211 (0) 955 022 347; Email:

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