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With help from the Government of Japan, Southern Sudan rebuilds its schools

©UNICEF video
Children in Southern Sudan participate in a celebration of the opening of their new school, one of 40 schools built and rehabilitated with support from the Japanese Government.

By Kun Li

NEW YORK, USA, 17 July 2007 – Japan has contributed $8.6 million to Southern Sudan, aiding the region’s school-rebuilding efforts following two decades of civil war that devastated the education system there.

With the contribution from the Government of Japan, “we have been able to focus on school construction,” explained UNICEF Representative in Sudan Ted Chaiban. “We have been able to construct 20 schools in south Sudan and rehabilitate another 20 schools, and the work is still ongoing.”

To see this progress firsthand, the Japanese Ambassador to Sudan, His Excellency Yuichi Ishii, recently visited remote villages where new schools have been built through a partnership between Southern Sudan, Japan and UNICEF.

© UNICEF video
Japanese Ambassador to Sudan Yuichi Ishii cuts the ribbon during the opening ceremony at a new school in Rumbek, the capital of Lakes State, Southern Sudan.

Peace dividend for children

Together with local schoolchildren, Mr. Ishii also celebrated the opening of a newly constructed school in Rumbek, the capital of Lakes State. Besides supporting school construction, Japan’s contribution has helped to provide 350,000 sets of textbooks benefiting 750,000 young students like those he met in Rumbek.

During the war, only an estimated 1 out of 100 girls in Southern Sudan finished primary school. The lack of appropriate school structures and separate sanitation facilities for girls and boys has been identified as a major factor that keeps children, especially girls, out of school. 

The Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement finally ended hostilities two years ago. In April 2006, the Government of Southern Sudan launched the ‘Go to School’ initiative. With UNICEF’s support, the campaign aims to rebuild the school system and get 1.6 million children back to the classroom.

©UNICEF video
With brand new UNICEF textbooks in their hands, schoolchildren in Rumbek, Southern Sudan, welcome guests to their school.

A timely contribution

Some 850,000 children, 34 per cent of them girls, were enrolled in schools by the end of 2006 – a major increase from the estimated 343,000 who were in school in Southern Sudan during the war. As more children enrol, more learning spaces and school supplies are needed, making Japan’s contribution an especially timely one.

 “Our contribution is a small part of the education programme of the Government of Sudan,” said Mr. Ishii. “We are very happy to be part of the rebuilding of this country, and promotion of education is part of the rebuilding process.

“UNICEF and the people of two states, Unity and Lakes, are working hard to make the project possible,” he continued. “I am very much impressed with the performance of the people here.”


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9 July 2007:
UNICEF correspondent Kun Li reports on the progress made possible by a Japanese Government contribution to help rebuild schools in Southern Sudan.

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