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Poor funding, conflicts are barriers to education – ex-official

Author: Emmanuel Akile | Published: Monday, February 15, 2021

School children in their tree shade classroom | File photo

The lack of funding and political and communal conflicts are among the main factors hindering access to education in the country, a former government official says.

Michael Lopuke who served for years in the Ministry of General Education and Instruction stated that the poor education system is being enabled by cattle rustlings, roadblocks and lack of government commitment.

According to the General Education Act of 2012, basic education “must be free and compulsory” to all children in the country.

To enable this, 10 percent of the annual budget is to be channeled to formal learning.

In September last year, the Ministry of Finance unveiled to the cabinet over 218 billion pounds’ estimate for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.

In the 2019/2020 fiscal year budget, the education sector was allocated 967 million pounds, just about 4.6 percent of the entire budget.

Michael Lopuke argues that this has never been “enough”.

“The only thing that we can do as a nation is to give education the first, the second priority in the allocation of our resources,” he told Eye Radio. “In that way, we need to invest massively in education for our people.”

In 2018, UNICEF said more than two million children, or over 70 percent, are out of school in South Sudan, putting at risk their futures and the future of the country.

Some of the out-of-school children are living in pastoral communities, moving with their cattle, and are not able to attend regular classes.

Lopuke believes communal violence have also interfered with learning in some parts of the country mainly in greater Jonglei and some parts of Bahr el Ghazal and Equatoria regions.

He said this is putting children at risk of going to schools.

“Today you hear a lot about what is happening in the country – the unnecessary killings, roadblocks and lack of functional government systems in most areas. We need to stop war, we need to have peace in this country,” he added.

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