Thursday, April 19, 2012

South Sudan: Gordon and Sarah Brown Launch Campaign to Get 1 Million Children into School in South Sudan

Gordon and Sarah Brown Launches Campaign to Get 1 Million Children into School in South SudanSOURCE Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown

Gordon Brown, former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Co-Convenor of the High Level Panel on Global Education, today launched an international campaign calling for the World Bank, Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and other international organizations to take urgent action to address the education crisis in South Sudan, particularly in light of the country's ongoing fragility.

"South Sudan has a larger proportion of its children out of school than almost any other country in the world, along with the deepest gender inequalities," said Gordon Brown. "We know that education can be a catalyst for progress in other areas, such as nutrition, child survival and combating infectious diseases. For children trapped in conflict, education can help to create a sense of normality and keep alive the hope of a better future. The time for bold action is now."

"Access to a basic education is the birthright of every child, no matter where he or she is born," said Graca Machel, Co-Convenor of the High Level Panel on Global Education, referring to the need to get more children in school. "The international community's commitment to the world's most vulnerable children should be measured by its willingness to ensure schooling even for those who are the hardest to reach, including in conflict-affected states."

To launch the campaign, the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown today published a new report, "Education in South Sudan – investing in a better future." The report argues that South Sudan - the world's newest country - provides an ideal opportunity to showcase the rapid progress that can be made towards the international development goals in education, even in fragile states. Thus far, however, international organizations have been slow to address the situation in South Sudan. In particular, the report argues that the Global Partnership for Education's response to the Government of South Sudan's education strategy is instead "a showcase for what is going wrong in an aid system that is too inflexible, slow-moving and unresponsive to the needs to conflict-affected countries."

The advocacy campaign launched today also includes an online grassroots initiative designed to put pressure on the World Bank and GPE to launch an urgent review of South Sudan's education needs. The petition also demands that the Bank and the GPE set aside at least $180 million in funding for education in South Sudan by July 9, the first anniversary of the country's founding.

The Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown is also working to engage the private sector in addressing the education crisis in South Sudan via a new Global Business Coalition, and to create a new emergency education initiative, "Education Without Borders."

The report published today includes grim statistics about the state of education in South Sudan including:
Six years after the end of the Sudanese civil war, more than one million children remain out of school.
Of the 134 countries for which secondary education enrollment data are available, South Sudan currently ranks last.
Less than five percent of 13 year-old girls in South Sudan have completed primary school.
In some parts of South Sudan, the ratio of students to trained teachers is more than 200 to one.

In the report, Gordon Brown outlines an emergency 'education catch-up' plan for South Sudan. Through classroom construction, teacher training and targeted incentives to encourage parents to send their children to school, particularly girls, the plan would get another 1 million children into school by the end of 2015. The plan's financing provisions for the period 2012-2016 include:

  • $180 million in co-financing from the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Education.
  • $100 million from OECD bilateral donors, and $30 million from non-traditional donors.
  • $30 million from the Africa Development Bank/Africa Development Fund, with their support leveraging additional finance from other sources

Today's action is one component of a wider Education for All campaign that is being led by Gordon and Sarah Brown. Through the Office of Gordon and Sarah Brown, the former UK Prime Minister and his wife are working to find solutions to the global education crisis. Their goal is to boost the number of children in primary schools worldwide, and to partner with government, business and non-profit leaders and organizations around the world to achieve the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015.