Final Push to Ensure That Schools Can Safely Reopen on 3rd May

April 29, 2021 12:54 pm

The Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI) has announced that schools will re-open on May 3rd. This calls for immediate action from schools across the country to ensure that COVID-19 preventative measures are in place so that learners can study in a safe environment.

Awut Deng Acuil, the Honourable Minister of General Education and Instruction, said, “We want to encourage parents, students to ensure that we keep schools open but safe in the environment where they live”.

Following the announcement, schools across the country quickly mobilised resources to prepare to safely welcome their learners. Simple COVID-19 preventative measures include frequent handwashing, physical distancing and using face masks, as well as sending home learners who display symptoms of COVID-19, such as a high temperature, a persistent cough and loss of taste and/or smell.

South Sudanese learner during COVID-19

South Sudanese learner during COVID-19

The WASH Report

In September and October, Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) and MoGEI undertook a Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) assessment in schools to ascertain the current provision of WASH facilities and their functionality and accessibility for all children, including those with disabilities.

The WASH report established that the availability of handwashing facilities in schools was as low as 33%, meaning that 1,366 out of a total of 4,159 schools had handwashing facilities. Of these 4,159 schools, 81% had water available while only 49% had soap available at the time of assessment.

The report highlighted the provision of adequate WASH facilities is still a big challenge for many schools across the country. All learners and school staff members have the right to a safe and healthy learning and teaching environment, including access to adequate WASH facilities, especially in the light of the pandemic. Equipped with the results from the WASH report, education partners started to move across the country to try to fill these gaps ahead of schools reopening.

Click here to read the WASH Research Brief.

Case Study

Martyrs Memorial Secondary School in Juba is an example of best practice. The school has prepared to welcome its learners back and is considering all COVID-19 safety measures. Director of Studies, Yong Andrew, said, “We will consider dividing the learners into two classes to practice social distancing. We know dividing the learners will come with extra cost as teachers will be over worked, but this is an option we can consider if children need to be safe”. Physical distancing has been confirmed as one of the most effective control measures of the spread of COVID-19 and is one of the most simple measures that schools can put into place to stop the spread of the virus.

The school has also received COVID-19 information, education and communication (IEC) materials from education partners, including large posters that display preventative measures based on Ministry of Health advice.

Outside one of the classrooms at Martyrs Memorial Secondary School in Juba

Outside one of the classrooms at Martyrs Memorial Secondary School in Juba

Yong continued, “We received donations of face masks. We’ll provide face masks to those who can’t afford. We’ll also put handwashing facilities in front of all the classrooms.” To ensure that surfaces are kept clean, the school received a pressure sprayer from education partners, allowing classrooms to be easily disinfected after lessons. However, Yong did note that this may be difficult to maintain if the school is not receiving regular refills of disinfectant. The school is looking into revenue streams to make sure that all of these measures can continue throughout term time.

GESS encourages all schools to implement measures to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus, and to urge parents that everything is being done to ensure their children’s safety. Learning must continue in South Sudan and health and safety measures must be put in place to make sure that parents and guardians are comfortable to enrol their children.

For more information on COVID-19, or if you have developed COVID-19-like symptoms, call the Ministry of Health toll free number, ‘6666’.

You can read more on the WASH status of schools across the country from our WASH report.


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