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Norway gives about $10 million for ‘safe’ reopening of schools

Authors: Daniel Danis | Garang Abraham | Published: Thursday, November 12, 2020

The signing ceremony was witnessed by Awut Deng Acuil, Minister of General Education and Instruction, Siv Kaspersen, Norwegian Ambassador to South Sudan, and Mohamed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF South Sudan Representative. Courtesy|UNICEF -South Sudan

The Government of Norway signed on Thursday an agreement worth $10 million [approximates] to support a safe return to school for children in South Sudan.

The funds will ensure as many children as possible are returning to school in the 2020-2021 academic year.

“…this flexible funding that comes from Norway allows a complete package for a child to be healthy and learning well,”said Andrea Saley, UNICEF’s country acting representative.

The funds will be managed by UNICEF.

In March 2020, all education facilities were closed due to COVID-19 putting the total number of children out- of- school at a staggering 4.2 million.

According to the children’s agency, children have carried most of the consequences of COVID-19 restrictions and funds have also “dried up.”

Most of the candidate classes in South Sudan resumed in October 2020. The government announced that the rest of the classes will resume in April 2021.

The new funds are also expected to support the provision of nutrition for children and their mothers in flood-affected States.

“As we all know we need to have a child who is nursed, a child who is safe and has access to water and sanitation so that they are ready to come to school and learn in a safe environment and community around them safe,” Andrea Saley stated.

The Norwegian Ambassador to South Sudan said her country wants to ensure children return safely to school – especially girls and vulnerable children.

Siv Kaspersen mentioned that a massive mobilization of communities and parents is needed to ensure children will fill up the classrooms as soon as the schools reopen.

She urged the government to play a greater role in strengthening the education sector.

“I will also take this opportunity to call upon the government of South Sudan to allocate more finances to the education sector and pay teachers decent salaries on time,” Ms. Kaspersen told those who attended the signing ceremony in Juba, Thursday afternoon.

Child development organizations recently said that the longer children are out of school, the harder it is to get them back to the classrooms.

“Bringing back girls is the largest challenge,” they noted.

The Minister of General Education – Awut Deng appreciated the government of Norway for the funds saying – it “comes at the perfect time.”

She added that such support are vital for the safe reopening of schools as ““too many children are already missing out on education.”

“As we are preparing to reopen all schools in April 2020, we believe that these funds will positively contribute to education in South Sudan. It will strengthen our efforts to tackle imposed by Covid-19,” she said.

Development agencies say South Sudan was already one of the countries with the highest proportion of out-of-school children, with 2.2 million children not enrolled before the pandemic.

This latest contribution is earmarked to education but is said to be flexible to allow UNICEF and other education partners to invest in what is most needed and close existing education gaps.

The Government of Norway says it is “one of UNICEF’s largest education donors globally and has always been a great supporter of UNICEF’s education programmes in South Sudan.”

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