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Sudanese refugee camps
South Sudan is a country that has been torn apart by war and internal conflict for over 20 years, having only brief interludes of peace. The violence continues today, pushing many people to flee to nearby countries like Uganda and Kenya. However, the violence disrupts more than just daily lives. Over one million South Sudanese children do not attend primary school. Many have fled to Sudanese refugee camps where an education is not offered, and for those who stayed, the conditions are too dangerous to hold or attend classes.

The decades of war have damaged several generations of young Sudanese students, denying them an education. As a result, there is a high illiteracy rate in South Sudan. The adult population that grew up under the first waves of conflict, is about 73 percent illiterate. In the age range of 15 to 40, more than two million people are illiterate. Females have a higher illiteracy level because they are less likely to receive an education due to traditional customs of marrying at a young age. About 65 percent of the illiterate youth are female. About 10 percent of children, ages 6 to 17, have never been to school, with the percentage being higher in rural areas versus urban.
 
Several individuals, and an organization known as Project Education South Sudan, are out to give the next generation the gift of knowledge both in the country and in Sudanese refugee camps. Many believe that creating schools and educating the next generation is the best way to heal a war-torn nation. Alaak, a teacher in a Sudanese Refugee Camp in Uganda told the U.N., “Education is crucial in raising a generation of informed and skilled people, and also as a way to help children deal with the horrors they have witnessed… If you give them [children] education, they will grow up with healthy brains.”
By building schools and providing the resources in refugee camps, the teachers hope the education can encourage these students to create a peaceful South Sudan.
 
Katherine Hewitt

Sources: UNICEF, Project Education Sudan, NPR, UNHCR, World Bank
Photo: Flickr