South Sudan


This webpage aims at providing background information on the humanitarian and education situation in South Sudan, as well as links to key documents and websites. If you are looking for more detailed information on the education response, please visit the South Sudan Education Cluster operational webpage.

Humanitarian Situation Overview

Violence broke out in Juba on 15 December 2013, and quickly spread to other locations. Despite a Cessation of Hostilities signed on 23 January 2014, a recommitment to the Cessation in May, the intra-SPML dialogue in October, and the rededication to the January agreement in November 2014,  heavy fighting continues between Government and opposition forces. Since the outbreak of the conflict, thousands of people have been killed or wounded in the fighting. 1.5 million people are currently displaced within South Sudan and over 500,000 have fled to neighbouring countries. Over 100,000 people have sought refuge from attacks in Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites within UN bases. Tensions remain very high in the worst affected States (Upper Nile, Jonglei, Unity and Lakes), there are widespread reports that civilians, including women and children, have been targeted based on their political and/or community affiliation, the UN compound in Bor where civilians seek refuge was also attacked on 17 April 2014.

The current crisis comes on top of already large-scale humanitarian needs and has disrupted an already weak service delivery system, particularly in the three most-affected States. South Sudan has one of the world’s largest aid operations, tackling food insecurity, internal displacement, disease outbreaks (such as cholera and measles), refugee and returnee movements, and a range of other needs across the country. These come against a backdrop of some of the worst human development indicators in the world. While political negotiations continue, and are needed to end the suffering, they are unlikely to yield rapid improvements on the ground.

The South Sudan crisis was declared a Level 3 (L3) Humanitarian System-Wide Emergency Response on 11 February 2014, signifying the scale of the crisis and the multi-sector response required to meet the needs. Given the dramatic change in context since 15 December 2013, the Strategic Response Plan 2014-2016 has been replaced by the South Sudan Crisis Response Plan until June 2014, then by the revised Crisis Response Plan until the end of 2014, and finally by the 2015 Humanitarian Response Plan as the overarching framework for humanitarian action. Ongoing insecurity in many parts of the country is having a significant impact on the humanitarian community’s ability to respond.

Impact on Children and Education

The current conflict and displacement have aggravated an already difficult education situation, with low rates of enrolment, limited participation by girls in schooling and poor school infrastructure. The crisis has created an additional access challenge for state institutions to effectively prepare for and respond to critical education needs of the communities most affected by the conflict. For more information on the education situation prior to the current crisis, read the Impact Evaluation Report of the South Sudan Education Cluster.
Since the outbreak of the conflict, at least 1.7 million of children and adolescents are in need of emergency education, including some 400,000 who have dropped out of school. Many are unable to access education due to displacement, while others are out of school due to the impact of the conflict on their communities or live in host communities where education facilities are non-existent or overstretched. Over 70% of the 1200 schools in Unity, Jonglei and Upper Nile States have been closed since the onset of the crisis. Many supplies including prepositioned education supplies have been looted. At least 91 schools have been occupied by armed groups or used as shelters. 
Education needs are great within displacement sites. Children who remain out of school are particularly susceptible to dangerous labour practices, recruitment into armed groups, and other negative coping mechanisms such as crime, substance abuse, and perpetuating gender-based violence. Education spaces 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.

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. Many teachers in conflict affected areas have had their salary payments interrupted, some have remained unpaid since the start of the crisis.

There is also a need for emergency education programmes to adopt a conflict-sensitive approach tailored to local contexts to promote integration and peaceful coexistence of communities, both today and in the longer-term.SouthSudan_TLS

Education Response

In 2015 the Education Cluster aims to help over 519,000 pre-school and school-age children, youths, teachers as well as parents and relevant community members, out of 1.7 million people in need. Priority areas are the three conflict-affected States. This includes PoC sites, in particular the Bentiu PoC. Activities target the most vulnerable affected children and youths residing in displacement sites and host communities in rural and urban areas. The overall aim of the Education Cluster is to ensure the continuation of learning for children and young people, and facilitate the return to school for those who have had to leave school as a result of the conflict or have been unable to access any learning services due to displacement, insecurity and violence. Education Cluster partners will respond particularly in those areas where the Ministry of Education is unable to ensure education services.
Key priorities for the Education Cluster include:
  • Construction and rehabilitation of learning spaces, provision of Temporary Learning Spaces (TLS)
  • Provision of teaching and learning materials;
  • Provision of non-formal education (Accelerated Learning Programmes, Alternative Education Systems, vocational training, other forms of non-formal learning);
  • Advocacy for the payment of teachers in government-controlled areas, and the development of an alternative strategy for compensating teachers in non-government controlled areas and PoC sites;
  • Training for education actors on life skills, psychosocial support and peacebuilding;
  • Advocacy for vacation of schools

The cluster works with the Child Protection Sub-Cluster to document grave violations, and to train teachers in referral pathways, and with the WASH Cluster to ensure gender sensitive water and sanitation facilities in schools, hygiene promotion, cholera/Ebola prevention messaging. Nutrition partners are trained in Early Childhood Development to ensure essential stimulation and cognitive development can take place alongside feeding actions, advocacy for sending children to school is passed through mother support groups and nutrition messaging through PTAs. Teachers are being trained in referral pathways for malnourished children. Learning spaces provide a platform for health activities such as vaccination, deworming, and other actions.

Read the Education Cluster Strategic Response 2015 for more detailed information on the education response.

Advocacy Efforts

Despite the urgent need to prevent a generation of children from losing multiple academic years, education in emergencies was not a priority within the humanitarian response. The Education Cluster was the only programmatic cluster to not to receive Common Humanitarian Funds for July-December 2014. Most Cluster partners rely heavily on these funds for emergency education activities. In response, the Education Cluster launched the Education Cannot Wait in South Sudan campaign. In December the Education Cluster was successful in securing funds from the 2nd CHF round.

In a survey undertaken by Save the Children, Education in Emergencies, A community’s need, a child’s right, children, parents and community leaders affected by the violence in South Sudan say education is a number one priority.

Deployment

Annelies Ollieuz, Rapid Response Team member (coordinator), was deployed in March-April 2014 to support the Education Cluster team by providing roving state level cluster support in Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile, the three most affected states.

Ellen van Kalmthout, global Education Cluster Coordinator, went to South Sudan in early August as part of an inter-cluster mission at the request of the HCT. The mission identified specific needs for global support. As a follow-up, two Rapid Response Team (RRT) members, Annelies Ollieuz (Cluster Coordinator) and Tyler Arnot (IM/NA Specialist), were deployed in late August 2014 to support the Education Cluster team in Juba updating the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) to inform the 2015 Strategic Response Plan (SRP). The support of two RRTs was very critical in this important process. The RRTs were also involved in organising an Education Cluster Coordinator training which took place on 3-6 November for the 30 Education Cluster focal points, 3 from each state, including MoE representatives, allowing for better coordination at the state-level thus improving service delivery where it is needed most. James Sparkes, global Education Cluster Coordinator, travelled to Juba in November to help facilitate the coordination training and to provide support to the SRP process.

Annelies Ollieuz and Tyler Arnot, RRT members, share their thoughts on their deployment to South Sudan and the education situation in country. Read the full interview.

Education Cluster Contact List

For additional contact information, please check the South Sudan education contact list on HR.info.

Do not hesitate to contact the Education Cluster Unit, contact details available here.

Updated on 25 April 2015

*South Sudan photograph credits: © Kate Holt / UNICEF

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