Norway calls for improving learning environment for children in South Sudan

// 21 November 2016, Juba, The Head of Development Cooperation at the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Counsellor Gunvor W. Skancke calls for children and youth to be provided with a conducive environment to learn and build a future for themselves.

Speaking at the opening of the third joint general education annual review, under the theme; ‘Inclusive Quality Education for Peace and Sustainable Development,’ the Head of Development Cooperation at the Royal Norwegian Embassy, Counsellor Gunvor W. Skancke said that children and youth should be provided with a conducive environment to learn and build a future for themselves. 

Mrs. Skancke said the fighting in Juba in July and the circumstances after has worsened the situation for education sector. This has forced donors to scale down presence and long-term investment in education. 

Adding that donors are ready to reengage but want to see that government commits itself in practice and through the budget. “Education is the most viable investment the country can do.” Mrs. Skance stated.

The Norwegian Diplomat said, “Children who are afraid do not learn. Children who are hungry do not learn. Yet South Sudan need skills that will keep them engaged in building the nation, not tearing it apart.”

She urged government officials, partners and participants to discuss key actions for 2017, and to be true to the reality in the next four days of the seminar. 

The Minister of General Education Deng Deng Hoc Yai, applaud donors and partners’ support to education sector in South Sudan, saying positive achievements have been registered. 

“The number of children enrolled to schools have increased from over 700 000 in 2006 to 1.2 million in 2015. The number of girls have also increase from 19,000 in 2006 to over 37,000. This is a massive achievement. But we still have a long way to go,” said Mr. Hoc. 

Mr. Hoc praised the GESS project, saying it has allow more girls to join and remain in schools. He urged, however, states government officials to create awareness campaign to communities to allow their children to go to school instead of looking after cattle. He also said that the government is committed to promoting gender equality, and urged his colleagues at state level to raise awareness among their communities in order to allow equal access to schools for both girls and boys.

“We need to get into action to reduce the number of children out of school by 75% in the next five years”, said Mr. Hoc, while addressing the states’ government ministers, donors and partners working in education field.

Adding “Gender equality or equity is a moral and legal obligation under the South Sudanese transitional constitution, because it is a means to build a nation. This is our moral and legal responsibility; we must strived to ensure that our girls go to school.”

However, the minister of general education said, allocation to general education continue to remains far below the constitutional provision and worse in the FY2016/2017, approximately 3%.

He stressed that effective management of that limited allocation would make a difference if well utilized. He urged states’ minsters to pay close attention on how the money will be used once transfer from central government to states are made. 

According to calculation from the ministry of finance, donors pay 77% of the total education budget in South Sudan. In the last budget, only 5% were allocated to education despites the agreed target of 10% of the total government Budgets to education. 

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