Education Cluster Strategic Response Plan 2015
Since the conflict, at least 1.7 million children and adolescents are in need of emergency education, including some 400,000 who have dropped out of school. Many of them are unable to access learning due to displacement, while others are out of school due to the impact of conflict on their communities or are living in host communities where education resources are nonexistent or overstretched.
Even before the conflict, the literacy rate in Jonglei state was 15 per cent. Countrywide, secondary school enrollment rate is less than 2 per cent. A South Sudanese girl was more likely to die in childbirth than to complete her primary school education. The meagre resources available go toward primary-school aged children, leaving adolescents and young people particularly vulnerable.
About 70 per cent 1,200 schools in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile have been closed since the onset of the crisis. For example, in Duk County, Jonglei, all 20 primary schools are closed, leaving an estimated 10,000 children out of school and 160 teachers without a job. Many schools are no longer safe havens as they have been damaged or destroyed by fighting. In Leer county alone, 15 out of 36 schools were burned and remain unusable. Since the conflict erupted, at least 91 schools have been occupied by armed groups or used as shelters by the displaced. Access has been especially difficult in Guit, Mayom, Koch, Maiwut, Nasir and Duk counties, where up to 330,000 children are without emergency education programmes.
Education needs are also great within displacement sites. Up to 25,000 children reside in Bentiu PoC site, and less than 4,000 have been able to access to emergency education. Those who remain out of school are particularly susceptible to dangerous labor practices, recruitment into armed groups and other negative coping mechanisms such as crime, substance abuse and perpetuating gender based violence."
Teachers are the most important element in ensuring access and quality for emergency education and they too, are in need. Many teachers have been displaced from their homes and forced to seek alternative livelihoods due to school closures and the lack of payment. Previously trained professionals have sought jobs with more reliable or higher payment. The overall effect of this is a lower quantity and caliber of teachers available in the three states. Most teachers in both the government-held and opposition-held areas have been unpaid since November 2013, thus reducing the incentive to come back to the profession when schools re-open. Teachers located in opposition-held areas will not be paid by the government in the foreseeable future and those in the PoC sites may not either.
More than 5,200 teachers are necessary to reach the 519,700 students to be assisted by the education cluster in 2015.
Children and adolescents who remain outside education are susceptible to dangerous labor practices, recruitment into armed groups and other negative coping mechanisms such as joining gangs and militia) crime, substance abuse and gender based violence. Education spaces also offer an opportunity to provide positive psychosocial support to children who have been through traumatic experiences. Attending school creates a sense of normality and routine for children, crucial for coping with the effects of exposure to conflict and displacement.
Communities and the humanitarian community worry about the increasing radicalization of young people, particularly in PoCs where idle and disengaged youth are forming gangs and militia, such as in Bentiu. Joining armed groups is perceived by many children and young people as the only option for becoming a leader in their community, especially where there is no opportunity to pursue livelihoods or advance through education. Schools serve as platforms for other actions such as child protection, health, nutrition and WASH. With schools currently closed, access to these services is limited.