Education: A Seed for a better future.
The benefits of secondary education in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.
Lessons outdoors, under trees, long distances, from home, flooding, and displacement, is the reality for children and young people in different parts of South Sudan. In addition, insecurity and lack of economic means discourage many parents from sending their youngest children to school, particularly girls.
South Sudan, the world’s newest country, has one of the highest proportions of out-of-school children globally. Approximately 2.4 million children are out of school with a large proportion of schools damaged or closed from conflict and severe flooding.
In the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA), some schools were damaged, closed or occupied by displaced people who have fled violence and floods. The (GPAA), has some functioning primary schools but only one secondary school: the Pibor Complex Secondary School.
The institution is now called Riyo Jakor Secondary School. It was renamed as a tribute to a pioneer teacher, Riyo Jakor, who devoted his life to educating the children from the Pibor County and Boma area.
Naming the school after a local teacher gives the community a sense of ownership.
In addition to playing a crucial role in peace and nation-building, education is essential for children and young people in the GPAA as it provides them with stability, structure and helps them overcome the trauma caused by disasters and conflict.
Quality basic education gives children and young people the knowledge and skills they need to meet the daily challenges and to take advantage of lifelong learning and economic opportunities. Furthering a child’s education is a key factor in reducing child marriages, early pregnancies, infant mortality rates, poverty, and gender-based violence.
Amid the threats posed by COVID-19, all schools across the country were closed during periods of 2020 and 2021, including Riya Jakor Secondary School.
In partnership with the Ministry of General Education and Instruction, UNICEF South Sudan and other education partners launched a distance learning program through radio, providing quality lessons twice a day, as a way for children to continue learning and stay engaged while at home. However, nothing can replace face-to-face education. The remote learning program remained a temporary solution, and the need for reopening schools became imminent.
Under the United Nations Reconciliation, Stabilization, and Resilience Trust Fund, UNICEF, in partnership with the Christian Mission for Development, facilitated the reopening of Riyo Jakor Secondary School. Closed for two years, the school, and six other secondary schools in Jonglei, are fully operational due to a consultative process between UNICEF, the Ministry of Education, and various stakeholders.
As a result, Riyo Jakor Secondary School enrolled more than 180 students in 2022.
For the first time, in the 2021-2022 academic year, 21 learners took the higher education entry exam called certificate of secondary examination in South Sudan.
Ensuring children resume schooling also has many benefits beyond academic learning. It provides them a safe place, access to primary services, including clean water, health, and in many cases, food. Schools can also be the basis of peacebuilding in the country.
We can solve conflict through education and more so secondary education. Going beyond the primary level empowers youth with the curiosity to recognize manipulative tendencies and life skills to resolve conflicts peacefully.
The Minister of Education is advocating in the cabinet for budgetary allocation to ensure the schools operates beyond the lifespan of donor funding.