A very low level of education among the
population is one of South Sudan's biggest societal
problems and an obstacle to economic development. The
difficult situation is a result of decades of war when
most school buildings were demolished and teaching was
often impossible to conduct.
Refugee waves and poverty in the wake of the war have
led most children to work instead of educating
themselves, in order to contribute to family survival.
Country facts of South Sudan, including geography profile, population statistics, and business data.
According to the UN agency Unesco, just over one
third of South Sudanese adults could read and write in
2018 (40 percent of men, 29 percent of women). In the
middle of the 2010s, almost three out of four children
started school (85 percent of boys, 60 percent of
girls), while only one in ten pupils went on to
secondary education (14 percent of boys, 8 percent of
Formally, all children are entitled to free
compulsory compulsory education for eight years, from
six to 13 years of age. Then follows a four-year
voluntary post-secondary phase. The teaching takes place
in English. After a peace agreement was concluded
between northern and southern Sudan in 2005, the
proportion of children who went to school rose sharply,
according to Unicef, but the increase stopped during the
civil war in 2013–2015, when more than 800 schools were
destroyed and over 400,000 children had to give up their
The proportion of girls in primary school is
considerably lower than the proportion of boys. The
difficulties for the girls include everything from lack
of school toilets to traditions that force them to get
married early so that their families can reap the
greatest possible bride price.
South Sudan has several universities, both state and
privately owned, but most of them have had difficulty
conducting any business because of the war. The main
educational institutions are located in the capital Juba
as well as in the cities of Wau and Malakal.
FACTS - EDUCATION
Proportion of children starting primary
32.1 percent (2015)
Number of pupils per teacher in primary
Reading and writing skills
26.8 percent (2008)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of GDP
1.0 percent (2017)
Public expenditure on education as a
percentage of the state budget
1.0 percent (2017)
Immersed in corruption
The organization Transparency International classifies South Sudan as the
world's fifth most corrupt country.
Widespread sexual violence
UN Reporter on Sexual Violence Against Women in Conflicts, Zainab Bangura,
says she has never seen such widespread incidence of rape and other sexual abuse
as during the civil war in South Sudan. She accuses both the government army and
the rebels of the abuses.
New battles in Bentiu
After a period of relatively calm, fierce fighting erupts again in the oil
town of Bentiu.
UN helicopter is shot down
A transport helicopter that flies UN supplies is being shot down. Three
Russian crewmen are killed and one is injured. The government and the rebels
accuse each other of being behind the shooting.
The fourth ceasefire is broken immediately
The government and the rebels enter the fourth ceasefire in eight months, but
it breaks within a few hours.
Popular radio station is closed
Radio Bakhita is shut down by security forces after the Catholic radio
station reported new fighting between the army and the rebels. Radio Bakhita is
accused of expressing the opposition's views. It is unclear if the closure is
The world's largest humanitarian effort
Although the humanitarian efforts in South Sudan are now the largest in the
world, they are still insufficient. In 2014, 50,000 children are at risk of
starvation. At least 10,000 people have been killed since the outbreak of war,
more than a million have been forced to leave their homes and over 400,000 have
fled the country.
Criticism of restrictions on media freedom
Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch jointly call on South Sudan's
security service to stop seized newspapers and shut down editorials, and to stop
harassing, threatening and arresting journalists on illegal grounds. The two
human rights organizations write that the strike against the media stifles all
debate about how the war in the country should be able to end.
UN: "Worst food shortage in the world"
The UN Security Council notes that the shortage of food in South Sudan is the
most severe in the world. About 3.9 million South Sudanese do not have enough
food. The UN calls on the countries that together pledged more than $ 600
million in aid to South Sudan to live up to their commitments (see May 2014).
EU sanctions against two military leaders
The EU is introducing travel bans and financial sanctions against a militia
leader on the rebel side and a commander in the government army. Both are
accused of serious assault on civilians.
MSF: "Hospital looted, patients killed"
MSF reports that at least 58 people have been killed in hospitals since the
war broke out in December 2013. The organization's report describes how armed
groups have repeatedly penetrated hospital areas, looted storage, killed
patients and staff, and destroyed or stolen. ambulances and other vehicles.
The peace talks are canceled
The UN states that more than 100,000 people have now sought protection at the
World Organization's offices around the country. Most refugees are found at the
UN bases in Bentiu, Juba and Malakal. At the same time, they are stranding the
Igad-led peace talks in Addis Ababa.
Hundreds of millions in aid are promised
At an international donor conference in Oslo, more than $ 600 million is
promised in aid to South Sudan. The money is mainly intended to save millions of
people from starvation.
Quick violation of ceasefire
President Kiir and rebel leader Machar meet in Addis Ababa and conclude a
ceasefire agreement. New battles erupt after only a few hours.
US sanctions against two commanders
A military commander on either side of the conflict is being punished by the
United States with personal sanctions for "unthinkable violence" against
civilians. The sanctions mean that the assets commanders may have in the United
States are blocked and that US companies and citizens are prohibited from doing
business with them.
UN: "Both sides exploit child soldiers"
The UN Commissioner for Human Rights, Navi Pillay, says that more than 9,000
children have been recruited as soldiers during the civil war. Both the
government side and the rebels use child soldiers. Both have also killed
children in indiscriminate attacks on civilians, according to Pillay.
The charges for treason are closed
The four formerly high-ranking politicians and civil servants who have been
charged with standing on the side of the rebels are released. According to the
court, the releases take place in order to "promote peace and reconciliation"
(see January 2014 and March 2014).
Suspicions of ethnic cleansing
The UN fears that the Bentiu rebels have massacred hundreds of civilians
seeking protection in a mosque, a church, a hospital and an abandoned UN
facility. In the mosque alone, more than 200 civilians should have been killed.
Before the massacres, people should have been sorted by ethnicity. The rebels,
via a local radio station, have urged members of the dinka people to leave
Bentiu and urged rebels to rape the dinka women. The rebels dismiss the
information as propaganda and blame the government army, but the UN stresses
that the massacres were carried out after the rebels took the city. The UN
requires a quick investigation.
The UN suspects war crimes in Bor
About 60 people are killed and more than 100 injured when hundreds of armed
youth storm a UN facility in Bor, where nearly 5,000 civilians sought shelter.
The UN Security Council announces that the incident may be investigated as a
suspected war crime.
Refugee stream towards Ethiopia
The UN estimates that, on average, around 1,000 South Sudanese - almost
exclusively women and children - cross the border into Ethiopia daily to gain
protection from the war.
The battles continue to rage
The oil-rich state of Unity's "capital" Bentiu once again falls into the
hands of the rebels. The government army admits that they have lost control of
Sharp criticism of the UN force
The relief organization Doctors Without Borders (MSF) accuses Unmiss of
neglecting the refugees' difficult situation. According to MSF, about 21,000
refugees live in miserable conditions in a UN camp in Juba.
The government demands an apology from western countries
A diplomatic schism arises when envoys from ten western countries, including
Sweden, accuse both the government and the rebels of making UNmiss UN operations
more difficult and threatening UN personnel. The South Sudanese government says
that the letter containing the complaints was not transmitted through the
correct diplomatic channels without the government becoming aware of the letter
via local media. The government of Juba demands an apology from the ten
Extensive streams of refugees in the wake of the war
More than one million people are now on the run, according to the UN. More
than 800,000 of them have moved inland, while more than 250,000 have moved to
another country. About 3.7 million South Sudanese are at risk of starvation and
4.9 million need some kind of humanitarian aid.
Suspected abuses should be investigated
The AU appoints a commission that will investigate suspected abuses committed
in South Sudan since mid-December 2013, when the civil war broke out.
Prosecution for treason
The formerly imprisoned, high-ranking politicians and civil servants (see
January 2014) are charged with treason, suspected of having taken a stand for
the rebel forces in the civil war. The charges concern a former
Secretary-General of the SPLM, a former Secretary of Security, a former US
ambassador and a former Deputy Secretary of Defense. The judges also order the
seven released men to stand before the court.
HRW: "War crimes committed by both sides"
Human Rights Watch (HRW) accuses both sides of the conflict for war crimes.
The Human Rights Organization reports on the looting and destruction of private
property and on arbitrary executions of civilians, often based on the ethnic
affiliation of the victims.
The rebels take on Malakal
The rebels claim to have full control over the oil city of Malakal. The
government is accusing them of flagrant crime against the ceasefire.
The UN appeals for disaster relief
The UN is asking the world for around $ 1.3 billion in disaster relief for
Igad monitors arrive
Fourteen downtime monitors will check a rolling and unclear front line in the
vast South Sudan with a virtually non-existent road network.
Agreement on imprisoned rebel leaders
Eleven rebel leaders are to be tried but they are free to work politically if
they are acquitted by the court. Seven of them, including former Justice
Minister John Luk Jok, will be released on January 29 and brought to Kenya. The
other four are being held in custody and will face trial for attempting to
overthrow the government.
Cease fire is negotiated
During the mediation of Igad in Addis Ababa, the government and the rebels
sign a ceasefire agreement. The mediators, however, doubt whether the rebel
leader Machar has the power to persuade the many loose groups who have taken up
arms against the government side to respect the ceasefire.
Government receives assistance from Uganda
The Government of Uganda admits that it has sent regular troops to fight on
the South Sudanese government's side. President Kiir confirms that he has asked
Uganda for help.
Half a million homeless people
Nearly half a million South Sudanese have become homeless due to the civil
war. According to the UNHCR, about 10,000 civilians have moved to Sudan. UN
Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon accuses both sides of the conflict of stealing
food that would have been distributed to refugees. The UN accuses the warriors
of engaging in mass killings, extra-judicial executions, destruction of property
Hard fighting around the country
Reports come about fierce battles surrounding Bor, who changed sides three
times during the conflict. The army is trying to take the city back from the
rebels. There are also fierce battles in Bentiu, where thousands of civilians
flee as the rebels take the city. Shortly thereafter, the Bentiu government army
resumes in Jonglei.
Preparatory peace contacts are made between the government side and Machar's
rebels. The parties meet in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, through the mediation of the
regional organization Igad. Negotiations for ceasefire are soon set in motion
when the government refuses to release eleven imprisoned leaders for the rebel