As South Sudan Joins UNESCO Major Challenges in Education Lie Ahead.

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The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO)
today welcomed the recently independent country of South Sudan — which has some
of the worst indicators for education levels in the world — as its newest
Member State.

At a ceremony today in Paris, where UNESCO is holding its general conference at
the agency”s headquarters, the flag of South Sudan was raised alongside those
of UNESCO”s other 193 Member States. The ceremony took place two days after
South Sudan completed the procedures for ratifying the agency”s constitution.

In her welcome message UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova noted that the
country of eight million people faces “immense challenges,” but pledged that the
agency would support the nation to strengthen its education system and train
teachers and other education professionals.

UNESCO, through its International Institute for Educatio
nal Planning, will work with the UN Children”s Fund (UNICEF) to draw up a plan
to help South Sudanese authorities tackle their major education needs.

The latest global monitoring report on education from UNESCO, released in June,
found that South Sudan is last in the world league table for enrolment in
secondary education and second-last for net enrolment in primary-level
education. Textbooks are in short supply, usable classrooms are unavailable and
there are not nearly enough trained teachers.

Women and girls are particularly badly affected. Just eight per cent of women in
South Sudan know how to read and write and there are estimated to be only 400
girls in the last grade of secondary school across the impoverished country.

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