UNICEF calls South Sudan to increase its public spending in education

20 January 2020
A boy sitting behind his desk at school
UNICEF South Sudan/Gonzalez Farran

JUBA, 20 January 2020 – South Sudan is not sufficiently prioritizing children’s education, UNICEF said today. While the internationally agreed international standard for education allocations is 20 per cent of the national budget, South Sudan only spends 5.6 per cent for 2019-2020, according the national budget. This is the lowest public education spending in East Africa, recent studies say.

2.2 million children do not have access to quality education in South Sudan, jeopardizing the future of the entire country. As the country prepares for a new academic year, UNICEF is calling on the Government of South Sudan to prioritize education in its government spending.

“Education must be a top priority for the Government in South Sudan and sufficient allocations must be made to ensure every child in the country can go to school and learn,” said UNICEF Representative in South Sudan Dr Mohamed Ag Ayoya. “By investing in the education of its children, South Sudan is investing in the future and development of the whole country.”   

The call for more public spending on education in South Sudan, comes as UNICEF is launching the global report ‘Addressing the learning crisis: an urgent need to better finance education for the poorest children’. Nearly 1 in 3 adolescent girls from the poorest households around the world has never been to school, the report says - launched as education ministers from all over the world are gathered at the Education World Forum, ahead of the World Economic Forum annual meeting.

Poverty, discrimination due to gender, disability, ethnic origin or language of instruction, physical distance from schools and poor infrastructure are among the obstacles that continue to prevent the poorest children from accessing quality education. Exclusion at every step of education perpetuates poverty and is a key driver of a global learning crisis.

The paper notes that the lack of resources available for the poorest children is exacerbating a crippling learning crisis, as schools fail to provide quality education for their students.

In South Sudan, lack of public investment in education is contributing to the critical shortage of qualified teachers. An estimated 62 per cent of primary teachers and 44 per cent of secondary teachers are not qualified. Also, many teachers leave the profession due to salaries not being paid on a regular basis.

UNICEF calls the Government of South Sudan:

  • to progressively increase the education share of the national budget to the international agreed standard of 20 per cent.
  • to ensure salaries of qualified teachers are paid and paid on time to increase teacher retention.
  • to allocate adequate resources to pre-primary education to ensure children are starting primary school well prepared.  

“With South Sudan’s academic year commencing in a few weeks, it is prudent to commit to realizing every child’s right to an education, by ensuring the education sector has the necessary resources,” said Ayoya. 

Note for the Editors

The South Sudan Citizen Enacted Budget 2019/2020 can be found on the website of the Ministry of Finance and Planning here. The Education Budget Briefing makes an analysis of the education spending in South Sudan.

Media Contacts

Yves Willemot

Chief of Communication

UNICEF South Sudan

Tel: +211 91 216 2888

Helene Sandbu Ryeng

Communications Specialist

UNICEF South Sudan

Tel: + 211 921 61 5824

Richard Ruati

Communication Officer

UNICEF South Sudan

Tel: +211 92 088 5211

About UNICEF

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.

For more information about UNICEF and its work in South Sudan visit: www.unicef.org/southsudan

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