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EU launches education, resilience project    

By Charles K Mark


European Union (EU) has launched a project to benefit more than 120,000 South Sudanese through the promotion of education and supporting resilience.

Target of the project is to strengthen education, resilience, and social cohesion in areas where there are high numbers of displaced people or returnees.

Three UN agencies, including IOM, the WFP, and UNICEF, will jointly undertake the execution of the program launched on October 10, 2023.

EU Delegation Head of Cooperation Section, Gabriel Leonte, said during the official launch that education is a fundamental right of every child and that one shouldn’t be left behind.

“Children living in a context of fragility, internally displaced, returnee, and refugee children should therefore equally benefit from an enabling learning environment and be supported to acquire knowledge and skills,” he said.

Leonte lamented that education is an investment that should bring peace and socio-economic opportunities in the future for the people of South Sudan.

“To achieve these valuable objectives, we call for a renewed partnership and strong government ownership, leadership, and accountability at all levels so that every child can exercise their fundamental right to education,” the EU Delegation’s Head of Cooperation Section narrated.

The UN reported that more than two million displaced people who propose to return to their homes often face new challenges such as ongoing conflict, climate-related shocks, prolonged food insecurity, hyperinflation, and unemployment that all converge to erode livelihoods and coping strategies.

“By embracing an integrated multi-sectorial approach focusing on displaced populations and host communities, we are laying down roots for self-sufficiency and resilient communities,” John McCue, IOM South Sudan Chief of Mission, said.

He stated that the focus must shift from mere humanitarian assistance efforts to tangible development across the country to ensure South Sudan reaches its full potential and its people lead dignified lives.

The UN revealed that one of the significant challenges facing South Sudan is the 2.8 million children said to be out of school.

They feared that this would increase their psychological distress and vulnerability to violence, abuse, neglect, and exploitation.

UNICEF South Sudan Representative Hamida Lasseko believes that, through education, building a more peaceful, prosperous, and resilient South Sudan, especially for displaced persons and returnees, can be a reality.

“This project will provide much-needed support for an inclusive and gender-responsive quality education, helping children access quality learning and contribute to more resilient communities,” she said.

This project aims to support returnees in rebuilding their lives and creating a better future for their children, particularly focusing on inclusive and gender-responsive quality education, sustainable livelihoods, school feeding, climate resilience, and activities to promote social cohesion.

The project also seeks to enhance adult literacy, numeracy, and essential life skills. It is a shining example of the international community’s commitment to helping South Sudan achieve peace, stability, and sustainable development.

” Support for families as they return to their homes and rebuild their lives is critical, particularly for children who remain at risk of being kept from the classroom in a context of growing food insecurity,” Makena Walker, Acting Country Director for WFP in South Sudan, said.

“For the future of South Sudan, we need these investments in programs such as school meals, nutrition treatment and prevention, and improving livelihoods, which is why this funding from the European Union has been so important,” Makena added.

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