“As we celebrate South Sudan's 10th Independence Day, my wish is for all children regardless of any gender to be given access to quality education to succeed for the future”, says Nybol, 18.
Few countries as young as South Sudan face a long list of multi-pronged challenges year after year in its ten years of existence. But equally fewer were those whose people put up a brave front, a remarkable spirit of resilience, expecting every coming year to be better and much brighter.
“Celebrating a 10-year milestone, this year's day of independence comes with hope and anticipation for a prosperous South Sudan. It also calls for renewed commitment from those in authority, families and communities to make the nation achieve its dreams”, says Dr. Mesfin Loha, Country Director.
The South Sudan Education Cluster report estimates that 3.4 million girls and boys between three and 17 years of age need education and over 66,000 teaching personnel. These do not in any way dampen the hopes of Abraham, 12, who says, “We learn lessons under the trees, yet our hopes for the future is alive. We need more schools and a safe environment to learn because we are the future.”
“South Sudan is experiencing one of its worst humanitarian crises in years; more than half of the affected people are children (4.4 million)”, warns UNICEF in its humanitarian situation report. The agency further stated that the prevalence of acute malnutrition among children in several parts of the country is above the emergency threshold.
Athieng, 10, echoes this as she appeals, “We need an improved health care systems to protect children from dying and also livelihoods for families to protect girls from early child marriage.” A total of 1.4 million children expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2021, including 300,000, projected to suffer from the severest form of malnutrition, the report stated.
We learn lessons under the trees, yet our hopes for the future is alive. We need more schools and a safe environment to learn because we are the future.
The UN General Assembly Secretary General’s Report on South Sudan issued on 21 June 2021 shared the “verified 165 grave violations against 154 children, 28 of them girls, with 11 more violations later verified in 2019. These violations include recruitment to armed groups, killing and maiming, rape, and other forms of sexual violence.
Apuk, 14, at a young age, is aware of these grave threats to children like her, and highlighted the need for children to be free from armed conflict and other forms of violence, “Child recruitment by armed groups steals children’s dreams. This must stop and the children should be protected.”
"We are a young nation that need more experience in governance. We fought hard to be where we are now, we must stop the violence and celebrate that we have this country. The peace agreement is not perfect but it is holding up, we just need to learn to peacefully co-exist. Peace will prevail but it must start from each of us”, says Angelo Mathuch, Faith and Development Manager.
Dr. Mesfin Loha supports Nybol’s and all the children's wishes, and calls for the nation to build back better. He says, “We must prioritize building back better with children for their children’s future, making child rights and well-being at the center of policy and programming. It must also be about tackling the worst forms of violence and abuse.
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