A push for primary education in South Sudan

Sheikha Moza bint Nasser launched the Educate A Child initiative on Wednesday, Nov. 14. Photo by: Buthaina.Media / CC BY-SA

A new initiative that aims to provide quality primary school education to an estimated 61 million out-of-school children around the world has arrived in South Sudan.

The Qatar Foundation has agreed to provide $12 million in co-financing for the Educate A Child initiative in the world’s newest nation, Sudan Tribune reports. The initiative, launched Wednesday (Nov. 14) by Qatar’s Sheikha Moza bint Nasser, aims to reach 430,000 children in South Sudan in the next three years.

Sheikha Moza bint Nasser is the chairperson of Qatar Foundation. She is also a UNESCO special envoy for basic and higher education, and an advocate of the Millennium Development Goal on universal primary education, having become a member of the U.N. MDG advocacy group in 2010.

“Qatar Foundation’s generous contribution will go a long way in improving the lives of children in this new nation,” UNICEF South Sudan Representative Yasmin Ali Haque said in a statement. UNICEF will be the initiative’s implementing partner in the country.

The money will provide for the construction of school buildings, the provision of basic education materials and teacher training in parts of the country.

Compared with other African countries, South Sudan’s efforts to achieve universal primary education have been lagging. A high dropout rate and overcrowded classrooms are among the challenges in primary education in South Sudan, according to a World Bank report in September. There is also a lack of qualified teachers in the country, with an average student-teacher ratio of 80 to 1.

Other partnership agreements the initiative entered into on Nov. 14 include one with the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East and another with UNESCO. The latter’s focus will be to reach 30,000 out-of-school children in Iraq over 18 months.

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About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.