The situation is critical in the world‘s youngest nation, where more than 2.8 million or more than 72 percent of children are out of school. For those who go to school, three-quarters start morning classes on an empty stomach, while a quarter find nothing to eat when they return home. According to UNICEF, more than 4.5 million children in the country are in need of humanitarian assistance.
However, the Yei River County government, a Spanish foundation, and a local orphanage are working to bring about change as they cooperate to improve the children’s education.
On November 15, county officials, the Nzuri Daima Foundation and the Kikiji National Orphanage signed a five-year agreement to meet educational and food needs.
“These partnerships are important to accelerating and improving education standards in South Sudan,” said National Woman Jackcillia Salathiel Ebere‘s Coordinator of the South Sudan Council of Churches. “The best schools in South Sudan are run by churches or private. Therefore, such partnerships would complement government efforts and boost education.
Nzuri Daima, based in Madrid, Spain, is a foundation that works to create social change through education in situations of inequality and vulnerability, with a focus on children and the most vulnerable groups. Kikiji National Orphanage Center is a charity organization in South Sudan, which helps abandoned and orphaned children living on the streets of South Sudan.
Many children in South Sudan have either lost their parents due to the protracted war, or others have been separated from their families and many more have become refugees. At least 2.2 million children are orphans.
Food and lack of school fees have spurred child marriages, with agencies pegging rates at 52%.
Other project considerations are the low number of trained teachers and their low income. Most schools lack basic infrastructure, materials and appropriate buildings.
“[We] wish to cooperate in a project to improve education in South Sudan, in response to the current situation of children in South Sudan, Central Equatoria State, Yei River County,” the signatories state in the ‘OK.
The foundation will seek sponsors to give monthly incentives to teachers and, if possible, help start a school feeding program, provide school materials and any other needs of the beneficiary school.
Among other obligations, the county government will advocate for the deployment of more teachers, increase the number of teachers‘ salaries and investments in education, and ensuring that fees paid by students are used for food.
The orphanage will represent the foundation and ensure that teachers attend classes fully and ensure that teachers are motivated.
“We all have a responsibility to take care of orphaned children. I am surprised and touched to see their suffering. We have a responsibility, as partners and as a community, to help them in all spheres of their lives,” said Almudena Barbero, Head of Nzuri Daima.