By Komakech Jimmy
Tens of thousands of school children in some of the South Sudan’s most food insecure areas will benefit from a new European Union (EU) funded education in emergencies programme launched in Aweil, South Sudan.
The contribution, worth €24.4 million, will provide hot daily meals to 75,000 school children, help train some 1,600 teachers, equip learners with educational supplies and provide psychosocial support services for 40,000 children who are currently enrolled in schools and those out of schools.
“The European Union believes in the right to quality and inclusive education for all. School children are the bright future of South Sudan,” said Dr. Sinead Walsh, Ambassador of the EU to South Sudan.
“For these children that we assist, we hope that learning will help them to overcome inequalities, poverty, and deprivation of fundamental rights. Education is the key to long-term peace and we will continue to work with our partners, the Ministry of General Education and Instruction, UNICEF and WFP, teachers, parents and communities to realise our dream of quality education for all in South Sudan.”
The partnership, the largest of its kind in the education sector in South Sudan jointly implemented by UNICEF and the World Food Programme, runs until January 2021 and will be rolled out in 150 schools across the four former states of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and Eastern Equatoria.
“For children to develop their full potential and continue learning, access to safe and protective learning environments is crucial, and this is what the programme will do,” said UNICEF’s South Sudan Representative, Mohamed Ayoya.
“The daily school meals enable the children to focus on their learning and grow into healthy learners, enhancing educational outcomes. This combination of essential services provided to the children will be an important contribution to more resilient and peaceful communities.”
The joint activities, built on UNICEF’s expertise in education and nutrition, as well as WFP’s experience in providing school meals, its presence in hard-to-reach areas and logistical capacity, will also help participating schools establish school gardens, where children can learn good farming practices, while supplementing their school meals with fresh produce.
“Every day, countless children across the country turn up for school on an empty stomach,” said Ronald Sibanda, WFP’s Acting Country Director in South Sudan.
“Many simply do not go, as their families need them to help with the cattle, in the fields or around the house. For all of them, food at school every day makes the difference. It means better nutrition and health, but also increased access to and achievement in education as well as a strong incentive for parents not only to send children to school but also to keep them there,” he added.
The joint education and school feeding programme will Improve access to quality learning opportunities for 75,000 boys and girls (6-18-year-old) in safe and protective environments in the four former states, provide in-service training and mentorship to 1,600 teachers and early childhood facilitators and also provide psychosocial support to 40,000 conflict-affected children and adolescents among others.