South Sudan commemorates International Literacy Day (ILD)

UNESCO in partnership with the Ministry of General Education and Instructions (MoGEI), of the Republic of South Sudan and other education partners celebrated the International Literacy Day (ILD) 2020 in Juba under the theme “Literacy Teaching and Learning in COVID-19 Crisis and beyond”, with specific emphasis on the role of educators and changing pedagogies.

The 2020 ILD celebration provided a platform for various stakeholders such as UNESCO, UNICEF and other education partners including the government to advocate and create awareness about the importance of literacy as a matter of dignity and human right, and the need to build the robust learning system so that literacy programmes throughout life are resilient.

During her keynote address, Honorable Awut Deng Achuil, Minister of General Education and Instruction, stated that, South Sudan is the least country in Sub-Saharan Africa, with the lowest literacy rate (27%) with approximately 2.8 million of out-of-school children. In south Sudan more than 70% of the population above the age of 15 years is illiterate, majority of them are women. The Minister therefore, emphasized that it is the duty of every citizen, government, and education partners to play an active role in advocacy and awareness raising about the importance of literacy and education as a right of every child, especially the girl child who are usually disadvantaged due to negative cultural attitude. Honorable Deputy Minister and Honorable Undersecretary Ministry of General Education and Instruction highlighted the achievements towards adult literacy in South Sudan and facilitated the celebration process.

While, Dr. Tap Raj Pant, UNESCO Juba office Education Specialist, reaffirmed that “UNESCO at global level and regional level is celebrating the day with various programs aiming to promote youth and adult literacy through generating and sharing knowledge about effective teaching methodologies during COVID-19 and beyond”. He further underscored that “Education partners and the MoGEI need to reflect on and discuss how innovative and effective pedagogies and teaching methodologies can be used in youth and adult literacy programme to face the pandemic and beyond”.

As part of the advocacy, UNICEF South Sudan Office Chief of Education and the Honorable Chairperson, specialized committee for Education at the National Legislative Assembly, appealed that schools should be reopened soon, to rescue the fragile state of literacy learning in the current COVID-19 crisis.

A beneficiary Mr. Yoane, a graduate of the literacy program shared his experience during the celebration – testifying that, “the Literacy and continued vocational program has been of benefit to me and as such my skills were enhanced and I am currently working with a Civil Society Organization (CSO) and a computer Centre”.

The State Ministry, Implementing partners including Across Africa Development Organization (AADO), Women Advancement Organization (AWO), and beneficiaries under UNESCO supported Peacebuilding Fund project in Wau, the State Capital of Western Bahr El Ghazal State, also observed the ILD, highlighting the importance of literacy during and post COVID-19.