By Taban Henry
The Republic of South Sudan has been placed at the level of bottom twenty globally in terms of literacy ranking.
This came during the launching of the South Sudan Education Sector analysis and Education Sector development plan.
The program was organized by the United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) in partnership with the National Ministry of General Education and Instruction with support from the German government.
Speaking in an inclusive interview to the media, Julius Banda the UNESCO Country Representative revealed that South Sudan sits at bottom twenty in the global context.
He however said the Country should not be scared citing that some challenges can be turned into opportunities.
“We need to have consistent outreach in-terms of adult literacy program so that they know the importance of school in order to send their children to school,” he said.
The UNESCO Country Representative added that South Sudan has an estimated 2.8 million children out of school, a figure he described as huge.
Banda believes that those under estimate may be under 3-4 million children who don’t put their feet’s in the classroom citing it as a huge challenge that the ministry is conscious of hence really need to address.
“We need to look at both the urban, rural and the pastoralist communities, how we can reach their children. There are hard to reach areas in South Sudan, they are many that need some solutions. We have to look on how we can bring learning to those hard to reach areas so that all the children have the opportunity to go to school,” he stressed.
Banda stated that to improve the education system there is need to train and also to be able to retain qualified teachers in the classrooms as well as continue providing professional development as they go on to teach.
He added that there is no quality learning if you don’t have teachers saying South Sudan does not have enough trained teachers and training institutes that are recruiting untrained teachers.
“I appeal that concrete steps should be taken to ensure that the Teachers Training Institutes (TTI) are functioning in order to recruit and graduate enough teachers in order to retain teachers in the classes that is to say they are paid enough and paid regularly,” Banda emphasized.
The UNESCO Country Representative however said they learnt that the children in the cattle camp in Rumbek are unable to go to school but rather move with their cattle thus no schooling.
He mentioned that in the current pilot project they have been able to bring a school right in the cattle camp where the children sit under the tree get learning in which some of them are already doing very well.
“We have been able to reach around 5,000 children in 20 cattle camps and my estimates is that cattle camps do not have such initiatives yet, that means their children are not learning and I am actually told that the pastoral community are of about 60% of the total population of South Sudan,” he said.
Banda hinted that the challenges why some children are out of school is because of pastoralism, poverty of which if the family is poor they cannot see their economic reason in order to send their children to school but rather use them for child labor or other things.
According to him the level of literacy the world have learned that if there is a literate mother she is likely to send her children to school and then if you have an illiterate mother or father the chances of them sending children to school are very low.