100 pages of projects for South Sudan and no libraries, no books… sigh.

South Sudan, poorest place on earth, but with a LOT of aid and oil money… large swathes of public services are run by the United Nations.  Lee Crawford points to the newly issued Humanitarian Appeal for South Sudan and I was shocked, just shocked, to see no mention of libraries (nor even of books).  Now Sudan more education needs than any place on earth, but surely piloting small primary school libraries open to the public should be a key element of any education policy.  Why spend enormous amounts of money helping kids learn to read if for the next 10 years they will not have any books to read?  Their literacy will remain very superficial.  And what’s more, it’s the literacy of the most capable, the best readers, the most ambitious, that will be stifled by the lack of books.

South Sudan ranks at the bottom of global education indicators.  Only 44 per cent of children are enrolled in primary school.  Secondary school figures are even worse, with 1.6 per cent enrollment.   Conflict, natural disasters and displacement compound these low rates. More than 55,900 school-aged children were affected by emergencies in 2012, with Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile the most impacted states.

Teacher capacity in South Sudan is exceptionally low, with only 44 per cent of teachers having completed primary school education.16 In Unity and Jonglei, the states most vulnerable to emergencies, the ratio of pupils to qualified teachers is 413:1 and 218:1, far exceeding the national average of 198:1.17 These figures highlight the critical need for emergency-specific teacher training. Emergency life-skills, education on landmine awareness, HIV prevention, protection principals, and hygiene and health messages are particularly critical.

I’d love to see simple children’s books on all these issues.

About mkevane

Economist at Santa Clara University and Director of Friends of African Village Libraries.
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