For Immediate Release
November 17, 2021
Juba, South Sudan—Through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the U.S. Government is continuing years of support for basic education in South Sudan through a new agreement supporting Phase II of Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS),
funded by the British Government and the Government of Canada, and managed by a consortium led by Cambridge Education/Mott MacDonald.
Building on accomplishments of over eight years of GESS, this expanded partnership seeks to improve the life chances of a generation of South Sudanese, with a focus on girls and marginalized children and youth. The activity ensures the provision of equitable, accessible, and quality education. GESS places a particular emphasis on girls, children with disabilities, and essential support to the education sector in South Sudan.
The initiative works nationwide in South Sudan. USAID’s contribution will support non-government schools in the 13 counties that are the focus of USAID’s development strategy in South Sudan:
- Kapoeta North and Budi counties in Eastern Equatoria State
- Akobo, Duk, Pibor, and Uror counties in Jonglei State
- Leer, Mayendit, and Panyijar counties in Unity State
- Baliet and Ulang counties in Upper Nile State
- Jur River and Wau counties in Western Bahr-el Ghazal
These 13 counties are among the poorest, most isolated, and least assisted areas in South Sudan. By focusing multi-layered assistance in these severely underdeveloped counties, USAID seeks to build community and household resilience to help communities better withstand shocks including floods and conflict.
Over 70 percent of primary-aged children in South Sudan are out of school, the highest proportion in the world. The rate is even higher among South Sudanese girls of school-going age —76 percent. The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated education challenges when schools closed for 14 months beginning in March 2020. Cases of girls dropping out of school because of pregnancy or forced marriage increased in part due to the long period of school closures. Schools reopened in May 2021, but still face challenges in complying with standard operating procedures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.
“USAID continues to recognize the importance of investing in basic education in South Sudan so that children and youth can realize their potential and South Sudan’s youngest generation will be equipped to carry this young nation forward,” said USAID/South Sudan Mission Director Haven Cruz-Hubbard. “That is why we are joining the United Kingdom and Canada in expanding Girls’ Education South Sudan, which has a proven track record of accomplishments.”
In its first phase, GESS reached 295,000 girls with cash assistance, more than 3,400 schools with cash grants, and two million South Sudanese through radio broadcasts. This phase aims to reach 930,538 girls. More than 5,000 schools are targeted to benefit from the program.