South Sudan is the world’s newest country and gained independence from Sudan in 2011, following Africa’s longest-running civil war. Ongoing conflict since 2013 has left thousands dead and 2.2 million people displaced, with over 57% of the 11 million population living in poverty. Although rich in oil reserves, South Sudan remains one of Africa’s least developed nations. Oil production has been severely limited by ongoing conflict and the fluctuation in global oil prices has further exacerbated the country’s economic difficulties as South Sudan is the most oil-dependent economy in the world. Despite the oil potential, over 85% of the population is still engaged in non-wage work (largely subsistence farming). The infrastructure in South Sudan is weak and large swathes of the country become unreachable during the rainy season. This makes the provision of aid and supplies much more challenging.
Education has suffered significantly from the conflict and female illiteracy is the highest in the world. South Sudan has fewer female children in education than any other country, with only 34% of girls attending primary and just 3% attending secondary school. According to our partner Africa Educational Trust (AET), a girl in South Sudan in three times more likely to die in childbirth than to finish her primary education. Those schools which survived the war are desperately under-resourced, with crowded classrooms lacking furniture, equipment and books, including textbooks. 50% of schools have no permanent building.
Why we work in South Sudan
South Sudan is one of the most diverse nations in Africa with over 60 distinct ethnic groups. There are many languages but the official languages of the country are English and Arabic, with English being the language of instruction in schools. This makes the school books we supply invaluable to students of all ages. The sheer lack of resource and the state of education in South Sudan means there is a dire need for the books we supply. By providing books for schools, hospitals and colleges we hope to play a part in the development of this new nation and to provide opportunities for its people so they can move towards a more positive future.
Our work in South Sudan
We have supported libraries in Sudan through book provision since 1963, and in what is now South Sudan since 2007.
In South Sudan, we work with our partner Africa Educational Trust (AET). The books we send to South Sudan help to stock four regional Resource and Open Learning Centres which are run by AET in Rumbek, Juba, Yambio and Panyagor. The books are then distributed to college, university and hospital libraries. AET also runs a mobile library service to reach schools and communities in rural areas – a vital service in a country where the lack of infrastructure can lead to isolation for many communities.
*UN Human Development Report 2014
**Unicef: State of the World’s Children 2015