The South Sudan government has received 27,000 radio sets from the United Nations Children Funds (UNICEF) to help facilitate distance learning for students.
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.
The collaboration between the Ministry of General Education and Instruction, UNICEF and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is aimed at ensuring children continue their education through distance learning, following the closure of schools in March due to the coronavirus.
Addressing the media during the launch in Juba, the Minister of General Education, Awut Deng Achuil, said the radios will help children in remote areas.
“The US support for education in South Sudan has been put into the right use. We are very grateful and we value the partnership we are in today. My message to my children is that it is not easy but this is a great opportunity that you must take to listen to your lessons,” Mr Awut said.
“The launch is to target the population of students in rural areas. This resource must reach the target group, it should not sit in the State and it has to go down to those students in the counties to benefit them.”
Mr Awut added that learners who have not been able to resume their studies in person will be able to follow the lessons on South Sudan Broadcasting Corporation and Radio Miraya.
The acting UNICEF Representative in South Sudan, Benjamin Kilonzo, said the distribution of the solar-powered radios adds to improve access to quality education for South Sudan’s most vulnerable children.
“With the distribution of these radios, the ministry of general education, USAID and UNICEF will expand access to learning for children who have been excluded from education in the past,” Mr Kilonzo said.
“Radio will also increase access to top-quality basic education to children who have been affected by conflict. Allow me to reconfirm UNICEF’s support to the government of South Sudan for the second phase of the safe reopening of schools and also the continued partnership to ensure access to quality education for the children of South Sudan,” he added.
In October 2020, UNICEF donated 5,000 solar radio sets to help facilitate the distance learning programme for students.
A total of 32,000 solar-powered radios funded by the USAID will benefit up to 160,000 vulnerable school children in South Sudan.
About four to five children in a household are expected to learn from each radio set that has been allocated to an individual child.
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.