Up to 1.3 million children in schools
The number of school children has risen to 1.3 million from 2,855 schools according to the School Attendance Monitoring System (SAMS) for the 2017 academic year, the Ministry of General Education and Instruction said.
Michael Lopuke Lotyam, Undersecretary in the Ministry of General Education said the number of pupils with data uploaded to SAMS developed as part of the Girl Education South Sudan (GESS) programme is increasing faster than in the previous years which has surpassed the record set in 2016.
“In 2016 estimated number of 1.3 million pupils enrolled in 3,560 schools, despite the escalation of conflict since July 2016,” he said. “It is important to note that SAMS is only reporting half of the schools which State Anchors [SA] have access to and where mobile network service coverage is available,” he said.
He said many children have now been enrolled in SAMS for the 2017 academic year with support from the Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MOGEI), UKAID, Girls Education South Sudan (GESS), UNICEF among other education partners, Michael Lopuke Lotyam, Undersecretary of the Ministry of General Education and Instruction revealed.
Lotyam stressed that pupils and teachers should be proud of this achievement saying that the Ministry of General Education recognizes that there was much work to do to make sure that every child go to school.
He said the balance of girls to boys is also at its best ever as girls now make up a higher proportion of the total enrollment than in any of the previous years, at 44.4 percent compared to 43 percent last year.
“The positive gain made in the historic imbalance between girls and boys in terms of access to education, retention and completion of a full cycle in both primary and secondary schools, has been attributed to the introduction of the cash transfer to girls in the last four years through the management of GESS,” he said.
He said Girls Education South Sudan (GESS) team has ensured that girl child from primary five to senior four receives SSP 2,800.
According to EU, schools return enrollment data to GESS through pupil admission registers, the submission of which has accelerated since the announcement of the EU IMPACT programme. Therefore the “EU IMACT will pay incentives to teachers of 30,000 primary school teachers across the country.
The Undersecretary continued that over the last three years, GESS and Ministry of General Education have reached over 3,500 schools with more than 9,000 capitation grants and paid over 300,000 cash transfers to more than 180,000 girls.
He said schools in areas hit by conflict including Yei River state and parts of the Equatoria region and Greater Upper Nile, have faced severe difficulties as they continue to serve under critical situations.
“Despite the gain in the enrollment and attendance we are announcing today, there are almost 2 million children who have no access to schooling in South Sudan,” he said. “According to global initiative on out of school study conducted by UNICEF South Sudan, this figure was realized before the conflict that broke on 15th December, 2013 and continued to date,” Lotyam added.
He said as for the displaced communities in greater Upper Nile and greater Equatoria regions, the number of children out of school is more than 2 million.
Akuje de Garang MBE, GESS team leader says pupils’ enrollment is increasing faster than any previous year and is likely to overtake 2016 records which show remarkable resilience on the part of South Sudan schools.
She noted that teachers and pupils are facing unimaginable challenges in various parts of the country saying it is imperative that recent improvements in the security situation should continue so that all children can go to school without fear.
“Whatever these figure shows is that even in the face of conflict, displacement and hunger, pupils still want to learn and communities want to educate their children,” Akuje said. “We will continue working closely with the Ministry of General Education and Instruction to ensure no South Sudanese child misses out the opportunity to go to school,” she said.
By Scovia Duku