The government of Norway has signed an agreement worth NOK 90 million (approximately USD 10 million), to support a safe return to school for children in South Sudan in 2020-2021.
In March 2020, all education facilities were closed due to COVID-19 putting the total number of children out-of-school at a staggering 4.2 million.
Ensuring as many as possible are returning to school is a priority for the Ministry of General Education and Instruction and UNICEF, which the Government of Norway is supporting.
Most of the candidate classes in South Sudan resumed in October 2020.
The rest of the classes will start in April 2021, meaning that the majority of the students will have lost an entire year of learning.
Previous experiences show that the longer children are out of school, the harder it is to get them back to the classrooms. Bringing back girls is the largest challenge.
“Norway is committed to contribute to ensure children will return safely to school, especially girls and vulnerable children,” said the Norwegian Ambassador to South Sudan, Siv Kaspersen.
“This support is aimed at strengthening every effort towards a safe return to learning in South Sudan, support to nutrition for children and their mothers in flood-affected States.
“I would like to take this opportunity to call upon the Government of South Sudan to allocate more finances to Education and pay teachers a decent salary – on time,” he added.
With 2.2 million children not enrolled before the pandemic, South Sudan was already one of the countries with the highest proportion of out-of-school children.
While getting ready for all schools to reopen safely, a massive mobilization of communities and parents is needed to ensure children will fill up the classrooms as soon as they open.
“The contribution from the Government of Norway comes at the perfect time,” said the Minister of General Education and Instruction Hon Awut Deng Acuil.
“Too many children are already missing out on education. As a country, we cannot afford for more children to be left behind and therefore we are thankful for the support from Norway.”
“The Government of Norway is an education partner you can count on,” said Mohamed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF South Sudan Representative.
“In a year where children have carried most of the consequences of COVID-19 restrictions and funding has dried up, the contribution from Norway is more important than ever to get back on track supporting a better future for children in South Sudan,” he added.