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Coronavirus - South Sudan: Scaling up Radio Education for Children in South Sudan

Educational radio programmes for children on Radio Miraya was launched today, enabling more children to continue their learning while schools are closed. Since 20 March 2020, education facilities have been shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure children are staying engaged and continue to learn, the Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGE&I) has together with UNICEF and education partners developed radio programmes for primary and senior classes.

The programmes will cover English language, mathematics and sciences. The lessons will be live on Radio Miraya and SSBC Monday to Friday between 10 and 11 in the morning and 2 and 3 in the afternoon, starting Monday 11 May 2020. During the live sessions given by teachers, students can call toll-free numbers to reach teachers in the studios if they have questions. For radio Miraya the number is 3030, for SSBC 4040. On Saturdays and Sundays, the radio stations will be airing pre-recorded lessons.

An overview of the lessons will be given every morning on Radio Miraya and SSBC and UNICEFs large network of mobilizers will also inform communities across the country. The timetable can also be found at the Ministry’s offices in the capital and on state, country and payam levels. As many households don’t have radios, the Ministry and partners are looking into procuring radios for dissemination to increase access to learning in the context of COVID-19, but it will also increase access to information in general.

“Education is a right for all children. In this difficult and uncertain time, education becomes much more important, particularly for girls and children with disabilities, who are most hit by this pandemic. I therefore do urge all our children, especially my daughters to take this opportunity and attend lessons on radio,” said Hon Awut Deng Acuil, Minister of General Education and Instruction.

With 2.2 million children out of school in South Sudan before COVID-19 and the literacy rate standing at 14.5 per cent for women and 35 per cent for men, the country can’t afford more children to miss out on basic education. Therefore, keeping children engaged in continued learning is essential. It is also important to prevent increased drop-out rates when schools are reopened, as we know that the longer children stay away from school the likelihood of them returning to school is reduced.

“While this initiative will keep children engaged, it is crucial to constantly keep working to prepare schools for an immediate safe reopening as soon as this is decided,” said Mohamed Ag Ayoya, the UNICEF South Sudan Representative. “A balance must be found between the benefits of the school closures versus the harm done to children’s learning and therefore their future. The newest knowledge about the disease must be applied to these analyses.”

The radio lesson initiative is planned to run for six months, depending on how the outbreak of COVID-19 evolves in South Sudan. The Ministry of General Education and Instruction and UNICEF would like to thank the EU, the Global Partnership for Education, the Government of Norway, UK AID (DfID) and USAID for their generous contribution making this happening. A big thank you to MTN for arranging the toll-free numbers and we would also like to express our appreciation to Save the Children International, UNMISS and UNESCO for their contributions to children’s learning during these unprecedented and trying moments.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of UNICEF South Sudan.