Social, economic, and political realities are so fragile in South Sudan that education remains of profound importance. For the last decade, South Sudan has seen significantly increasing school enrollments, yet its institutions are still being formed and transformed. Among its many challenges are a concentration of students in the early grades; a high proportion of overage students, repetition, and dropout, and weak levels of student learning. Faced with an adult literacy rate of just 27%, it is imperative that education opportunities in South Sudan strengthen and grow at the Primary and Secondary School levels.
The advantages of a Primary School (Elementary) education are clear. Currently, just 40% of children who are eligible attend primary school. Only about 1/3 of those complete their primary education. Additional and smaller classrooms in permanent buildings, improved curriculum, and further teacher training all will contribute to improving these rates.
For employment prospects, completing Secondary School (High School) is a distinct advantage. It is a general degree useful across all employment sectors, and is understood as a constant valuable currency in an economy that is developing and erratic. Yet the country is facing many challenges here. Only 2.4% of eligible students are enrolled in secondary school. The drop-out rate is significant, ranging from 18-33% depending on the grade.
The subject matter of education is crucial for people to survive in South Sudan. Besides the traditional secondary curriculum, practical learning in the areas of agriculture, automotive repair, building trades, tailoring, etc. are all valuable. Those employment sectors are more stable in South Sudan. Also, in the erratic economy that currently exists, many of the skills the people acquire in these areas will keep them alive. When one cannot count on a market, grocery store, or hardware/repair business operating over a period of time, one relies on those skills learned in school like growing food, making clothes, and repairing necessity-type items to survive in tough times such as these.
Despite the uncertainty and what appears to be overwhelming challenges of reaching quality educational goals, we see a nation thirsty for spiritual growth and learning. Education is key to providing a secure future for South Sudan.