Oil dispute stalls education progress in South Sudan

    A student looks out of a window of a classroom in South Sudan. The country has reduced its education budget from 7 percent to 4 percent of gross domestic product. Photo by: Steve Evans / CC BY

    The oil issue in South Sudan is affecting not only the government coffers but also the country’s education sector.

    The world’s newest nation shut down oil production in January in protest of Sudan’s exorbitant transit fees. The decision, which led to rising food prices, has pushed the government to take dire measures, including budget cuts.

    South Sudan reduced the education budget from 7 percent to 4 percent of gross domestic product. It stopped school construction and teacher training, cut salaries and froze recruitment of new teachers.

    The U.K. Department for International Development, which is providing South Sudan 360 million pounds ($583 million) in aid over the next four years, also had to refocus its program to avert a humanitarian crisis.

    The United Kingdom has said it cannot fill the gap on South Sudan’s oil revenue. It called for the two warring countries to resolve their dispute and pressed the United States and Norway to take a similar stand on the matter.

    “The committee is right to say that British taxpayers can’t be expected to fill the gap when oil revenue could be available,” U.K. international development minister Stephen O’Brien said. He was referring to the statement made by MPs on the U.K.’s international development committee.

    The United States has taken a different stand on the matter and has decided to continue with its planned construction of teacher training institutes, the Guardian reports.

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    About the author

    • Ravelo jennylei

      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.