Education Cannot Wait in South Sudan

Photo of IDP children in temporary learning space in Lakes State

For years there have been calls for greater attention to education in crisis situations from a multitude of advocacy organisations.  The enormity of the problem is clear. Just 2% of humanitarian aid is allocated to education. The proportion of out of school children living in conflict-affected areas is on the rise. Conflict-affected states are often the furthest away from meeting education goals. The heart of the bias against supporting education in emergency contexts is the view that education is not seen as immediate and lifesaving – and for that reason it is not a donor priority. In sharp contrast, for many people affected by conflict, education is important because it is a source of hope for the future. 

With the onset of civil war in December 2013, the Education Cannot Wait campaign has focused on South Sudan and a briefing paper was published in June 2014 setting out the destructive consequences of the conflict on educational provision. In a country that has suffered educational marginalisation for decades, where literacy rates are amongst the lowest in Africa and where even the modest targets of the Millennium Development Goals are far out of reach, the outbreak of war is nothing less than a catastrophe for increasing access to education.