Today we celebrate the International Day of Education 2020 – a day proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly to honour education and its centrality to sustainable development.
The 2020 theme ‘Learning for people, planet, prosperity and peace’, highlights the integrated nature of education and its importance to our collective development ambitions. Peace is vital for the development of South Sudan’s education sector and conversely, education can help to foster peace and development.
Education for peace
Education has not always been prioritised as a part of humanitarian responses to emergencies and crises. Education should be considered amongst the most pressing needs during emergencies. In contexts where emergency humanitarian relief is a priority, it is critical to also work on long-term sectoral development. There is no better example of this than the case of South Sudan.
Education can do more than mend the damage caused by conflict; it can help with long-term processes of peace building; strengthening and sustaining the social fabric of the nation; as well as providing essential building blocks for the long-term development of the country. In South Sudan, where school-age children make up more than a third of the population, the need for investment in education is even more pressing.
Maintaining education and its built-in protective elements provides vital continuity and support for children living through crises. During crises and emergencies, education can provide the children of South Sudan with the necessary stability and structure to help protect them from risks and dangers, as well as giving them the tools to meet their potential.
Education is a crucial foundation for long-term development and economic stability. Schooling is also a precondition for political participation, inclusion, advocacy and democracy.
What is GESS doing?
GESS is committed to ensuring equal access to education for all children wherever there may be. This principle of ‘Do No Harm’ is an indirect conflict mitigation driver.
In practice, GESS has been able to extend its services to nearly all counties, adopting a conflict-neutral and sensitive ‘Do No Harm’ approach with communities and education officials. The field staff of GESS’ Regional Anchor organisations have been working in most counties throughout the conflict period, driving nationwide attendance and attainment in school
GESS has adapted a number of its strategies to address the needs of conflict-affected children, communities and schools. See the below case study for more details.
Through BBC Media Action, GESS drives a programme of behaviour change, looking to use radio and follow up at the community level as a way to communicate the positive benefits of education for girls and young women, and in the second phase of GESS, for learners with disabilities.
GESS has consistently employed audience feedback and analysis of the conflict context in South Sudan to inform the content of both the radio programmes and community mobilisation activities. Programming has adapted to the changing context of the country, responding to the issues most relevant to audiences. Radio broadcasts have included a focus on difference and diversity, staying safe, displacement and the inclusion of IDPs in schools and communities.
Through broadcasts on partner radio stations we have also been able to reach displaced populations in the Protection of Civilians sites (PoCs) within South Sudan and refugee camps in Uganda. That programmes can adapt to reflect the issues being faced by audiences has ensured relevancy and maintained audience engagement.
“Education initiatives have a proven potential to help marginalized populations gain access to justice that contributes to peaceful societies” (UNESCO, 2019).
To read more about the International Day of Education, go here:
Tags: education, Education Day, IDE2020, South Sudan