Situation of Education in the Current Conflict and Humanitarian Context
Education indicators in South Sudan were already extremely low prior to the outbreak of the current civil war. According to the National Bureau of Statistics’ 2011 Statistical Yearbook and Ministry of Education’s 2013 Education and Management Information System (EMIS) 73% of men and 84% of women above 15 years of age were illiterate, three out of five school-age children were not enrolled in primary school, and the pupilclassroom ratio averaged 100. Although a few indicators have improved since, the conflict which started in December 2013 has severely impacted this already fragile education system. The national assessment conducted by the Education Cluster in November 2016, for example, showed that 25% of primary schools which were open at any point since 2013 were non-functional, and that 31% of primary schools had suffered at least one or more attacks since December 2013.
In the second half of 2016 and first half of 2017, the displacement and humanitarian situation became worse, as the conflict spread to new locations in the Equatorias and Western Bahr El Ghazal, and following intensified fighting in Upper Nile and northern Jonglei. By June 2017, the number of people in need of food assistance is estimated to reach 6 million - the greatest number of food insecure people ever recorded in South Sudan - over 2 million people are internally displaced in South Sudan, and more than 1.9 million have fled the country. For the first time since South Sudan’s independence, the cholera outbreak is continuing through the dry season, reaching new locations and becoming the longest and most widespread outbreak since 2011.
Rationale for Education Response
In a country where children represent 47.75% of the population, the brunt of the immediate impact and longterm effects of violence and displacement is borne by them. The interruption of education will have short and long term consequences for the stability and development of South Sudan as children who are not in school will lack the structure and stimulation for healthy cognitive, social and emotional development that they require. The education crisis also risks fuelling new conflicts as an estimated 17,000 children are already recruited into armed groups. The longer children stay out of school, the more likely it is that they are recruited into armed groups.
Conversely, research conducted for the South Sudan Education Cluster impact evaluation in 2013 found that education is a major priority for internally displaced and host populations, second only in importance to improved national security and freedom.3 In addition to being a priority for South Sudanese people, education activities supported by Cluster partners effectively support children’s learning as can be seen in end-ofprimary exams results: in 2015, the percentage of IDP students who passed their end-of-primary exams was 4.6 points higher than that of all students.