The African Development Bank has approved a proposal for US$17.7 million to finance the first social sector project in South Sudan since the Bank’s engagement in the country in 2012. The project will increase access to improved basic education for children in the Upper Nile, Unity, Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria states and regions.
The project will improve access to primary education for 30,000 children through the rehabilitation and expansion of 35 primary schools, enhance the capacity of 2,000 teachers and rehabilitate two national teacher training institutes and ten county education centres. It will also provide water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, as well as furniture and learning materials; and build capacity for a better delivery of education services at primary level.
The project is guided by South Sudan’s national development strategy, the general education strategic Plan; the national girls’ education strategy; and the orientation of the Bank’s country strategy paper, which was recently extended to 2021. The strategies emphasise nation-building through capacity and infrastructure development.
The conflict in South Sudan has seriously affected socioeconomic development and compromised basic services infrastructure including education in South Sudan. More than 2.2 million children in South Sudan are out of school, and about 800 primary schools are either non-functional or partially functional. South Sudan is in need of 23,000 primary school teachers by 2021, yet more than 75% of national teacher training institutes and county education centres are either not operating or partly operating. The quality of education is poor, with the primary completion rate estimated at 14%. Therefore, the Bank’s investment in basic education for the children of South Sudan will help to create the building blocks for a productive workforce and revitalised national development.
Acknowledging the timeliness of approval of this project, country manager for South Sudan, Benedict Kanu, said that “education is not only a powerful driver of development, and one of the strongest instruments for reducing poverty and improving peace and stability, but it is also the key to ending conflicts.” Kanu added that “rebuilding education systems during and after crisis education as is envisaged by the project is crucial in conflict and fragile situations because it will help to provide security, facilitate peacebuilding, and foster resilience.” He expressed the strong hope that “the project will help to inspire urgently needed change and stability for future generations of South Sudanese.”
Since 2012, the Bank has contributed more than $160.55 million in development aid across various sectors for South Sudan. The support has focused on capacity building and infrastructure development, with an emphasis on promoting peace, stability and state building.