South Sudan: Giving children the chance for an educated future

In South Sudan, an entire generation has missed out on an education owing to the fact that a 20-year civil war has all but destroyed the nation’s infrastructure. Even though major hostilities ended in 2005 with the signing of a peace agreement, by then, an estimated 85 percent of the South’s population had been displaced at least once, millions had fled their homes, and hundreds of thousands lay dead.


Some 14,500 young children in South Sudan, who have endured unthinkable suffering and carnage need to begin their education this year–most for the very first time–but cannot because so little educational infrastructure remains. 

  • South Sudan ranks amongst the 30 poorest countries in the world, according to the human development index
  • Over half the population is under 15 years old
  • Only 40% of children are enrolled in primary school

The majority of schools in South Sudan are bush schools, held outdoors under the shade of trees or built with local materials. They offer minimal protection from the elements, especially during the rainy season. In addition, these schools have no latrine facilities, no access to clean drinking water, and there is a serious shortage of resources and supplies, such as desks, chairs, textbooks, chalk, blackboards, exercise books, pens and pencils. Compounding these problems, most teachers have received no formal training.  


In Aweil West, South Sudan, Concern is increasing children’s access to education by working with the local education department and PTAs, training teachers, building schools and providing uniforms, furniture and education materials. Our resources to date can only take us so far. Many children still cannot attend school because none exists. Also, it takes more than classrooms and uniforms alone to educate youth. That’s why Concern works to achieve all the elements that will make the provision of education sustainable for the long haul.  The Government of South Sudan started a campaign to encourage school enrolment and pupil retention (particularly of girls) this year, which Concern’s Education team is strongly supporting.  

Maria Nijuur Bak, a 16-year-old 7th grader, remembers what “school” used to be like before Concern built a new building in her village of Achuak: “Rains destroyed our classes. Teachers would not teach while it was raining and we all had to run for cover.” For Maria, the long and hot two-hour walk to and from school every day to realise her dream is worth it: she wants to be a doctor, “I have to study hard, attend school and get good grades.”  Maria confirms that not having a permanent structure is also keeping enrolment numbers low. “I would like to build more concrete buildings so more people could come to school,” she says.

 Her friend Angelina, also 16, who attends Pantit Primary School, shares Maria’s professional ambitions, and is equally as committed. “I want to be a doctor in Wau. I have not been there, but the education will take me there. I want to treat my people. There are many diseases affecting people here, like malaria, diarrhoea, or dysentery.” she says.

Both girls are members of the school’s Hygiene Club encouraged and supported by Concern. They are using good hygiene practices to stay healthy. Uniforms were introduced and provided by Concern as an incentive to encourage children, girls in particular, to come to school. This helped to create more equality amongst the children, especially the poorer children who admit that they feel too ashamed to come to school in their shabby clothes. To learn more about Concern's education programs click here.

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Concern needs your help to build four new schools, support PTAs, provide supplies – from pencils and books to uniforms – and give teachers and county education staff comprehensive training to improve and update their skills. Today schools here often have no walls, roofs, desks – or even textbooks.  

Some 14,500 young children in South Sudan deserve an education. With your help we can reach each child. Please help us to realize that dream for them.

To donate please click on the “Donate NOW” button above.

You can also make a donation by sending a check of whatever you can afford to Concern Worldwide US, 104 East 40th Street, Suite 903, New York, NY 10016 OR call 1-800-59-CONCERN