By Julius N. Uma
June 27, 2012 (JUBA) - The European Union (EU) has earmarked €11.5m (US$14.3m) for strengthening primary education in South Sudan, with specific emphasis on reducing the high rate of school drop-outs among pupils, especially girls.
- South Sudanese students in Benitu, Unity state (Getty)
The fund, allocated under the EU’s Improved Management of Education Delivery (IMED) program, seeks facilitate capacity building in the country’s national Ministry of General Education and Instruction, as well as education ministries in the Greater Bahr el Ghazal region including Lakes, Warrap, Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal states.
The project, the EU noted in a statement, will be implemented in cooperation with the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), with up to eight non-governmental organisations in the four named state earmarked to benefit from funding.
A report published in April by the former UK prime minister, Gordon Brown, revealed that of the countries for which data is available, South Sudan has the worst level of secondary education enrolment. Also, less than five percent of girls in South Sudan complete primary education; and in some parts of the country there are 200 students to every teacher.
After more than two decades of civil war, woeful under-investment under the former rule of Khartoum and statehood achieved only last year, much of South Sudan’s infrastructure is in urgent need of development.
The EU funding “will help state authorities to improve management of education delivery so as to better plan and monitor educational activities, which will ultimately result in more children learning more and more teachers trained to teach better,” partly reads the EU statement.
The four target states in Greater Bahr el Ghazal are, according to the recently released South Sudan Household Survey, the most disadvantaged in the country based on the proportion of school-aged children in primary school (grades one to 8), as well as school completion rates.
“The IMED program will improve school management efforts to allow more girls and boys to start and finish their primary education,” the statement says, adding, “The EU believes in the important role of education in empowering people to break the barriers of poverty, to realize greater prosperity and to contribute more to their communities.”
The EU has supported various projects in South Sudan including supporting civil society organisations in the country to enable them to work on a multitude of issues in the field of human rights, political pluralism, as well as supporting their role in influencing legislative and policy reforms.
Last week, the EU Council announced the allocation of €12.5m (US$15.6m) to strengthen security in South Sudan’s aviation industry, especially within Juba international airport. As part of the process 64 personnel will be deployed in Juba, the South Sudan capital, over a 19-month period with the European Union Aviation Security (EUAVSEC) from September.
EUAVSEC South Sudan will reportedly train and mentor security services, provide advice and assistance on aviation security, as well as support the coordination of security activities, but without any executive-related duty.