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South Sudan, 16 October 2014: Survey shows education is number one priority

16 October 2014, JUBA, South Sudan – With only 1 in 3 school age children across the country currently enrolled in school, leadership from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Save the Children and UNICEF came together today to affirm their commitment to providing quality education opportunities for all, even during crisis.

And in a new survey undertaken by Save the Children, children, parents and community leaders affected by the violence say education is a number one priority.

Education is key to helping children establish a sense of structure and normalcy during crises. It lowers their risk of being exposed to violence and exploitation as well as to early marriage, and allows them to develop healthy coping strategies.

The survey shows the respondents agree.

Education, they say, can protect children and save and transform their present and future. An 11-year-old girl highlighted how, “Teachers teach us how to protect ourselves.”

While, a parent said: “I am not educated and this makes me vulnerable. The only thing we want is for our children to learn so they are not vulnerable like us.”

Their message is clear: education must be placed front and centre in the humanitarian response. 62% of children and 33% of adults consulted prioritised education over other needs, such as food, water, and shelter.

These consultations also come at a critical time, as both UN and NGO partners are developing their response plans for 2015. The commitments to ensure a strong emergency education response are the first step to ensuring access to tens of thousands of crisis-affected students who are currently out of school.

“The right to a quality and relevant education is fundamental to the holistic wellbeing of children, their futures and the future of their communities,” says Jonathan Veitch, Country Representative of UNICEF. “Education must be made a priority in the humanitarian response, and this is what people in South Sudan want.”

“Again and again, we find that children and families prioritise education, even in crisis situations,” says Save the Children CEO Jasmine Whitbread. “They say that without education, there is no future and as humanitarian actors we must listen and respond to the priorities of affected populations.”

Following today’s joint stakeholder discussion, the Undersecretary of Education Michael Lopuke confirmed that education is a priority for the current administration: “Despite the present challenges, South Sudanese must look to the future, and to our children, who represent the potential of this great nation. It is crucial that we work with our international partners to ensure we are creating a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan - and that road begins with quality educational opportunities for all. Education cannot wait.”

For further information or interviews, please contact the following:

Mark Kaye, Media Manager, Save the Children on +211 922 417 296 or

More Info:

The stakeholder discussion was held at the Juba Grand Hotel this afternoon, and was moderated by Save the Children CEO Jasmine Whitbread. In addition to the Undersecretary for Education, Michael Lopuke, the discussion included Jonathan Veitch of UNICEF, Toby Lanzer, Resident/Humanitarian Coordinator and Deputy Special Representative, Richard Arden of DFID, LeAnna Marr of USAID, Guieseppina Guisa of the European Union, and Save the Children South Sudan Country Director Peter Walsh.

The survey mentioned is part of on-going research being undertaken by Save the Children, UNICEF, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and World Vision International to document whether, how and why children and families in crisis affected areas of South Sudan prioritize education, under the title, Hear it from the Children: South Sudan. This research is expected to be published in December 2014.

Fact for editors:

  • An estimated 400,000 children have dropped out of school as a result of the conflict.
  • Only 60% of teachers in South Sudan are trained.
  • In South Sudan, an adolescent girl is three times more likely to die during childbirth than complete the primary school cycle.
  • Only 1.6% of Secondary school-going age females are enrolled in Secondary school, and 35.4% enrolled in Primary School (EMIS 2013).
  • Only 13% of primary school teachers in South Sudan are female



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