March 9, 2018

Adapting to Safety and Security Challenges: Lessons Learned During a RERA in South Sudan

Written by Wendy Wheaton and Nitika Tolani

This post orignally appeared on ECCN’s website.

Even before South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in 2011, significant gains were made in education. However, the return to war in December 2013 has eroded many of the improvements in access to and quality of education. In South Sudan, 2 million school-age children, or 72%, are out of school, the highest proportion in the world, according to UNICEF. Since the war began, the government and opposition forces have recruited more than 19,000 children to fight or for sexual purposes or to serve as cooks, porters, messengers, spies, and other forced roles. A joint education needs assessment conducted by the Education Cluster in 2016 and 2017 showed 1 in every 3 schools, were attacked. Military and displaced populations continue to occupy some school buildings.

USAID programming in South Sudan, since 2014, has addressed these critical issues by increasing access to education for the most conflict-affected learners who contribute to the growing population of out-of-school children and youth. In order to ensure that USAID programming remains relevant, effective, risk-informed and conflict-sensitive, USAID commissioned MSI to conduct a Rapid Education and Risk Analysis (RERA). The analysis engaged a total of 10, multilingual, gender-balanced, enumerators who undertook a 10-day, MSI-led training on data collection, bias, ethics of research etc. and actively tailored and adapted tools to the local context at hand with input from a broad range of stakeholders, including Education Ministry staff. In June 2017, one of the teams were traveling up-country and three South Sudanese data collectors from MSI arrived in Bor. They were ther to collect data from schools and communities in and around the city. Overall the RERA in South Sudan gathered information in order to:

  • gain a deeper understanding of the relationship between the conflict and the educational system in South Sudan through consultation with multiple stakeholders;
  • identify the risks associated with access to education by studying its link with other sectors and help inform risk mitigation strategies; and
  • consult with a wide range of national and community-level actors to better understand their perception of how education mitigates the effects of conflict.

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