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History is making a new republic in Southern Sudan. Education will build its future.
With formal independence ahead in July, the world’s soon-to-be newest nation, the Republic of South Sudan faces a daunting state-building task. After 21 years of war, the education sector has limited infrastructure and poor institutional support mechanisms, and planners face high illiteracy levels, low (although rising) school enrolments, and mass youth unemployment. According to the Gender Assessment of USAID in Southern Sudan (2010), 92% of women cannot read and write, and only 27% of girls are in school. A 15-year-old girl has a higher chance of dying in childbirth than finishing primary school. Despite these challenges, there is tremendous political will for improvement; and the peaceful implementation of the Referendum demonstrated the potential for progress.
Realistic planning is a must
The situation urgently calls for realistic strategic planning. Together with UNICEF, IIEP/UNESCO supports the Government of Southern Sudan to strengthen the Ministry of Education’s (MoE) planning capacity (see related news on IIEP’s first mission to Juba in December 2010). Phase 1 of this project, funded by UNICEF, aims to develop a draft (2011-15) Education Strategic Sector Plan (ESSP). Later phases could develop MoE capacity to draft a full sector plan (including higher education) and improve policy and planning.
Recent mission builds consensus on planning process
IIEP’s mission on 14-25 February 2011 was anchored in the MoE Planning Directorate. It featured joint sector analysis with the MoE and its development partners at an ESSP Development Seminar. Senior planners and advisers from central and state levels ensured a breadth of national perspectives. The mission joined an INEE Consultative Workshop on Education and Fragility on 16-17 February, analysing crucial issues such as returnees, language of instruction, and sharing of resources.
Meetings with Ministers and development partners
The mission team held meetings with His Excellency the Minister of Education, Dr. Michael Milli Hussein, as well as the Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, and their Undersecretaries. It also met development partners and NGOs through the Joint Donor Team and the sector working group. The ESSP seminar was closed by UNESCO’s Sudan representative.
Outputs of the mission and next steps
Through a process of consensus building with participants, several outputs from the seminar were agreed upon:
the outline of the national ESSP: one united plan that reflects state priority issues – featuring five National Priority Programmes and cross-cutting issues of Equity, Gender and Peace-building;
the consultative Process at GoSS (Government of Southern Sudan) and state levels, including guidance notes for this process;
a draft Action Plan to write and finalize the Education Sector Strategic Plan.