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Schools reopen in South Sudan a year after closure

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May 3, 2021 (JUBA) – School officially reopened in South Sudan on Monday after closure for over a year due to COVID-19 pandemic.

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School pupils demand creating of a conducive environment for learning in Bor, May 22, 2014 (ST)

Most of the schools had been closed for 15 months due to COVID-19 restrictions, but candidate classes resumed in October last year.

Speaking to reporters in the capital, Juba on Monday, the vice president in charge of service cluster, Hussein Abdelbagi said the decision follows recent drop in COVID-19 infections in the country.

"COVID-19 is still with us but we have decided to reopen schools and will strictly follow COVID-19 preventative measures in the schools," he said.

Abdelbagi, however, stated that schools would only be allowed to operate at half capacity as preventive measures against COVID-19.

For her part, the minister of General Education and Instruction, Awut Deng Acuil urged parents and guardians to enroll their children, including pregnant and breast feeding girls, saying the government is doing everything in its power to ensure that schools reopen safely.

According to the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), 2.8 million children were out of school due to poverty, inequalities, cultural beliefs and nomadic lifestyles before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The agency, however, stressed that it remains particularly concerned about girls as the enrollment rate for females was very low before the pandemic, and there are multiple reports about increase in child marriage and early pregnancies during the school closure.

Meanwhile the agency said it is supporting the South Sudan Ministry of General Education and Instruction by providing soap to improve hygiene and close to 900,000 face masks will be distributed to children and teachers.

At least 72% of children in South Sudan, according to UNICEF, leave school before finishing primary education due to marriage and economic factors.

(ST)

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