2.4 million South Sudanese children are not attending school – UNICEF

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JUBA, South Sudan
New data in the Global Initiative on Out of School Children South Sudan Country Study estimates that up to 2.4 million children are not attending school in South Sudan, the highest proportion of out of school children in the world. Years of conflict, displacement and economic collapse continue to deprive children of education, harming the future of the country.

In just two years the number of children not in school will increase by a further 200,000, to 2.6 million, if conditions in the country do not significantly improve, the study warns.

“We cannot leave children behind.  They are the future of South Sudan,” said Sardar Umar Alam, UNESCO’s Representative to South Sudan.  “We must work together – everyone including the government, civil society and development partners – to urgently support and invest in teachers and getting children into schools.”

Educated children are able to build a better future for themselves, and the country

The study mapped major barriers and challenges keeping children from going to school. Displacement, recruitment by armed forces and groups, poverty, and child labor were cited as major risks to children’s education.

It calls for greater investments in collecting education data to allow for evidence-based activities while stressing the importance of functional schools with clean water, books, trained teachers and a safe learning environment free from conflict.

“Investing in education is not only the right thing to do, it is the smart thing to do,” said Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan.  “Educated children are able to build a better future for themselves, and the country.”