Survey shows education is number one priority

Friday 7 November 2014

With only 1 in 3 school age children across the country currently enrolled in school, leadership from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Save the Children and UNICEF came together today to affirm their commitment to providing quality education opportunities for all, even during crisis.

And in a new survey undertaken by Save the Children, children, parents and community leaders affected by the violence say education is a number one priority.  

Education is key to helping children establish a sense of structure and normalcy during crises.  It lowers their risk of being exposed to violence and exploitation as well as to early marriage, and allows them to develop healthy coping strategies.

The survey shows the respondents agree.  

Education, they say, can protect children and save and transform their present and future. An 11-year-old girl highlighted how, “Teachers teach us how to protect ourselves.”

While, a parent said: “I am not educated and this makes me vulnerable. The only thing we want is for our children to learn so they are not vulnerable like us.”

Their message is clear: education must be placed front and centre in the humanitarian response. 62% of children and 33% of adults consulted prioritised education over other needs, such as food, water, and shelter.

These consultations also come at a critical time, as both UN and NGO partners are developing their response plans for 2015. The commitments to ensure a strong emergency education response are the first step to ensuring access to tens of thousands of crisis-affected students who are currently out of school.

“The right to a quality and relevant education is fundamental to the holistic wellbeing of children, their futures and the future of their communities,” says Jonathan Veitch, Country Representative of UNICEF. “Education must be made a priority in the humanitarian response, and this is what people in South Sudan want.”

 “Again and again, we find that children and families prioritise education, even in crisis situations,” says Save the Children CEO Jasmine Whitbread. “They say that without education, there is no future and as humanitarian actors we must listen and respond to the priorities of affected populations.”

Following today’s joint stakeholder discussion, the Undersecretary of Education Michael Lopuke confirmed that education is a priority for the current administration: “Despite the present challenges, South Sudanese must look to the future, and to our children, who represent the potential of this great nation. It is crucial that we work with our international partners to ensure we are creating a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan - and that road begins with quality educational opportunities for all. Education cannot wait.”