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Promoting access to quality, safe, and relevant education for all persons affected by crisis

EiE Crisis Spotlight: South Sudan

Last updated: June 2014


Location of Crisis

According to Save the Children, "the crisis is currently impacting five countries in the East Africa region," including Ethiopia, Kenya, South Sudan, Sudan, and Uganda.

Timing of Crisis

According to Save the Children, South Sudan is in the midst of "Africa's longest running civil war." According to Oxfam International, "the conflict that broke out in South Sudan on 15 December 2013 has left thousands dead and displaced hundreds of thousands more. Vulnerable populations continue to flee ongoing fighting in South Sudan as seasonal rains worsen their already dire living conditions.

Since fighting between government troops and rebel forces erupted last year:

  • Over one million people have fled their homes and are now displaced within South Sudan.
  • More than 80,000 people have sought refuge at various UN compounds across the country.
  • In Juba, 80% of displaced people are women and children.
  • More than 350,000 people have fled to neighboring countries, many of whom had to cross the Nile River on their way to Uganda, leaving everything they had behind and risking their lives."


Affected Populations

993,300 children and adolescents are affected and in need of emergency education services, primarily in the Greater Upper Nile region of South Sudan, concentrated in the states of Upper Nile, Unity, Jonglei with additional internally displaced persons (IDP) sites in Juba and Awerial counties. The refugee caseload in Ethiopia, Uganda, and Kenya inflates these numbers further. 


Brief Description of the Situation

Sources: OCHA June 2014; South Sudan Education Cluster June 2014

Pibor South Sudan Education Cluster ©
Soldiers occupy a school in Pibor County, Jonglei State, May 2013.
On 15 December 2013, violence broke out in South Sudan’s capital, Juba, quickly spreading to Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile states. Fighting continued despite a 23 January agreement to cease hostilities. So far, more than 1.4 million people have been forced from their homes and tens of thousands have been killed. An upsurge in ethnic targeting has created large potential for revenge attacks. Millions are at risk of death from violence, famine, and disease. On 9 May, in Addis Ababa, South Sudan's president, Salva Kiir, and opposition force leader Riek Machar signed a new agreement to resolve the crisis. Both parties committed to stop fighting and let humanitarian partners access people in need. The document also reiterated the call for a "month of tranquility." Though fighting has decreased since the new agreement, sporadic clashes continue; civilians carry on living in fear. Most are unable to resume their livelihoods. During the first six months of the crisis, violence and deliberate attacks on civilians have been extreme. Wanton attacks have destroyed towns and settlements that had survived more than 30 years of civil war. Men, women, and children have been killed and injured. In many cases, people were targeted based on ethnicity or political affiliation. Medical facilities have been destroyed, patients raped and murdered in their beds. Schools have been attacked and occupied by armed forces and IDPs.


Impact on Education

Minkaman ©
IDP children attend a temporary learning space in Lakes State, March 2014.
The ongoing conflict continues to displace people and prevent children and young people from accessing urgently needed education services. Even before the start of the crisis, some 57% of children and adolescents in South Sudan currently did not attend school; the percentage was much higher in the Greater Upper Nile states. The current crisis will dramatically increase these numbers. At least 1,188 schools are closed in the affected region. Another 95 schools are occupied by armed forces and displaced communities. In hard to reach areas of conflict-affected states, the national authorities have been largely unable to pay teacher salaries and support the re-establishment of services. This situation is likely to persist for the remainder of the year. Themselves affected by the crisis, many government teachers have left conflict-affected areas or taken up causal labour opportunities instead of working as teachers.

As a result of the lack of education services, many idle children and disengaged young people – particularly in the Protection of Civilian (PoC) areas on UN bases and other displacement sites – are at risk of turning to alcohol, looting, wandering into town and other unproductive activities. Children and adolescents who are not in school or do not see returning to school as an option are also at a higher risk of being recruited by armed actors. So far, 9,000 children have been recruited into the armed forces since December 2013. Furthermore, most of these children and adolescents have experienced a high level of trauma and stress, necessitating psychosocial support interventions. Without access to education, they are unable to receive the psychosocial support and lifesaving messages they need to cope with the situation. Parents, adolescents, and children alike have expressed their priority for accessing education, which has been a factor in crossing borders to seek schools in refugee camps. As a protective tool, EiE can provide lifesaving and life-sustaining interventions and enhance the impact of other sector responses.

Please also see the “Education Cannot Wait in South Sudan” advocacy document (link below) for further information.


Education Actors Responding to the Crisis

The South Sudan Education Cluster coordinates the emergency education response with 23 active partners (NNGOs, INGOs, and UNICEF) implementing under the Crisis Response Plan. In addition, UNICEF provides the supply pipeline for the entire country. The Ministry of Education, Science & Technology supports emergency education interventions where possible; however, the nature of the conflict constrains many of their operations.


Needs and Challenges

Emergency education activities needing funding especially in the three most affected states include:

  • Setting up temporary learning shelters and providing UNICEF emergency learning supplies
  • Emergency training of teachers/education actors in life skills and psychosocial support
  • Provision of emergency education curriculum, emphasizing life skills and psychosocial support
  • Re-starting of schools in affected-communities (enrollment, teacher mobilization, emergency facilitator allowances)
  • Emergency lifesaving messaging campaigns in cooperation with WASH, Health, Child Protection Clusters

The Education Cluster partners need $27 million to meet the emergency education needs until December 2014. No funding was allocated for July-December 2014 in the most recent Common Humanitarian Funds (CHF) allocations. The cluster was the only programmatic sector to not receive funding. Since the Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance (OFDA) and European Community Humanitarian Office (ECHO) do not fund EiE, partners are heavily reliant on CHF to source the funding. As a consequence, 70% of current EiE programming will cease in the coming months, unless the money is committed. Since the government has been unable to access teachers in the affected areas, most teachers in the three affected states have been unpaid since December 2013. The teachers will not teach without some sort of incentive. This has caused education activities to be delayed or stop in affected areas.

South Sudan's refugee crisis is also one of the world's most under-funded humanitarian crises. As of December, only 19 percent of a $659 million U.N. appeal for a South Sudan regional refugee response plan including Kenya, Uganda and Ethiopia, had been funded, the fourth least funded U.N. appeal.

Tools and Resources

The following key INEE resources in English and Arabic can be used to support EiE efforts in South Sudan:

  • INEE Minimum Standards Handbook (English, Arabic)
  • Guidance on Conflict Sensitive Education (English)
  • Guidance Notes on Teaching and Learning (English, Arabic)
  • Guidance Notes on Teacher Compensation (English, Arabic)
  • Guidance Notes on Safe School Construction (English, Arabic)
  • Pocket Guide to Gender (English, Arabic)
  • Pocket Guide to Inclusive Education (English, Arabic)
  • Pocket Guide to Supporting Learners with Disabilities (English)
  • Guidance on HIV in Education in Emergencies (English)
  • Reference Guide on External Education Financing (English, Arabic)
  • To access other EiE tools and resources in over 20 languages, please visit the INEE Toolkit.


Key Information Sources


Key Words

armed conflict, child soldiers, IDPs, emergency education, primary and secondary education, teachers, psychosocial support, lifesaving messages


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