The African Development Bank has undertaken a step towards financing its first social sector project in South Sudan by approving a $17.7 million proposal to improve basic education in select states of the country.
The project has targeted the South Sudanese states of Upper Nile, Unity , Jonglei and Eastern Equatoria.
The project is the first for both the country and the bank since their engagement began in 2012.
The project’s objective is to improve access to education for 30,000 children through the rehabilitation and expansion of 35 primary schools.
The project will as well aim at enhancing the capacity of 2000 teachers and rehabilitate two national teacher training institutes and ten county education centres.
On health and accommodation, the project will provide water, sanitation and hygiene facilities as well as furniture and learning materials.
The project is part of African Development Bank’s objectives for South Sudan spelled in the Bank’s country strategy paper emphasizing nation building through capacity and infrastructure development.
Sustained conflict over the years has slowed the country’s socioeconomic development with basic service and infrastructure for education being grossly affected.
As of today, over 2.2 million children in South Sudan are out of school, and about 800 primary schools are either non functional or partially functional.
With a big need for teachers, 75% of national teacher training institutes and county education centers are either not operating or partly operating.
Due to the dire state of affairs, the country’s primary completion rate is estimated at a mere 14%.
Acknowledging the timeliness of approval of this project, country manager for South Sudan, Benedict Kanu, said that “education is not only a powerful driver of development, and one of the strongest instruments for reducing poverty and improving peace and stability, but it is also the key to ending conflicts.” Kanu added that “rebuilding education systems during and after crisis education as is envisaged by the project is crucial in conflict and fragile situations because it will help to provide security, facilitate peace building, and foster resilience.”
He expressed the strong hope that “the project will help to inspire urgently needed change and stability for future generations of South Sudanese.”
Since 2012, the Bank has contributed more than $160.55 million in development aid across various sectors for South Sudan. The support has focused on capacity building and infrastructure development, with an emphasis on promoting peace, stability and state building.