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South Sudan opts for School Reopening despite surge in Covid-19 cases

September 15, 2020

By Deng Machol

Juba – Schools and learning institutions have started welcoming students and pupils into its premises despite lingering fears of the covid – 19 pandemic .

On Monday, Sept 15 marked the first day that gates of the schools were opened since the global pandemic led to close of learning institutions in March to prevent the spread of the Coronavirus.

The reopening of learning institutions comes after the transitional cabinet gave a green light during its first meeting since March chaired by President Salva Kiir in Juba on Friday.

The resumption of all levels of institutions of learning also comes as the minister of health presented a report on the status of the coronavirus in the country, saying it has waned in the country in recent weeks.

South Sudan that had a fragile health system, blighted by an immense corruption, has recorded over 2,592 cases of covid 19 with 49 succumbed and 1,438 recovered cases since the first infections in April.

Despite the new cases in the country the council of ministers directed the ministers of general and higher education to reopen schools.

Though, the reopening is welcome, parents are still skeptical on the safety of their children at the schools.

“The learners [of primary and secondary] need serious orientations because they cannot understand what the face mask is and they cannot identify what a social distancing is,” said Juma Lado, resident of Juba.  

The parents said there is also need to enforce pandemic guidelines since the health crisis caused by the virus still stands.

“I should be worried because teaching rooms are very crowding and it is easily to contact the virus,” said David Lual, 15 year old, senior two student in Juba, still an incredulous whether to join or not.

Due to massive ignorance on the pandemic in restive country, many students fear that they are going to study without observing all the preventive measures and this will lead ill health.

“Our lives matter and should be protected because if we are safe, then our parents will be safe too at home,” Mary Sebit, a student in Juba.

Meanwhile, the National Taskforce on Covid – 19 pandemic has welcomed the decision by the government to reopen schools but says all necessary preventive measures must be put in place across all schools and institutions of learning to ensure pupils and students protect themselves from the pandemic as they resume learning.

Many children agencies, including the Save the Children has commended the decision of school re-opening but advocates for the transitional government of Juba to provides all children with access to age appropriate information about pandemic in all applicable languages and to track how rumors and misinformation maybe harming or impacting specific groups of children.

“Save the Children welcomes the decision taken by the government of South Sudan to re-open schools to ease concerns on how covid – 19 has affected children’s rights to survival, protection and learning while at home,” said Rama Hansraj, the Country’s Director for Save the Children.

 The decision to re-open schools puts the smile on the face of 2.2 million children whose right to education was impacted by six months of schools’ closure.

“We are very happy to return to school after long time,” said Kiden, 14 years old –girl, but our lives is precious, and therefore, we deserves any protection from the pandemic and then president Kiir’s government shouldn’t only gave okay and go back and sit without provides enough face masks to all the schools in the country.”

However, Save the Children further urge the government to ensure that these children who are out of school are mobilized to resume their education and to be put in place the necessary health guidance to ensure that children, teachers and their parents are protected from potential risks pose by the covid – 19.

Of recent, over 150 cases of child marriage has recorded since a partial lockdown was imposed in the world youngest nation.

The closure of schools comes with traditional cultural practices that promote early marriage in the South Sudanese communities.

South Sudan’s legal marital age is 18 years, but the country had a desperate poverty due to long wars, has for long grappled with high rates of early and forced marriages.

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