Refugee children from South Sudan at Bidi Bidi settlement camp, north Uganda. Around $4m of a $36m grant could be reallocated to refugee education by the South Sudan government ‘if it wishes to do so’, says Alice Albright. Photograph: Sumy Sadurni / Barcroft Images
Conflict in South Sudan has sent a million people over the border to Uganda and three-quarters of South Sudan’s children are out of school. Larry Elliott has a point in asking why the Global Partnership for Education has not spent money available for education in South Sudan (Crisis that puts World Bank in the spotlight, 3 July). In 2012 GPE approved a five-year grant to South Sudan of just over $36m. Of this, $19.9m has been disbursed for curriculum development, learning assessment, training in school governance and school construction.
Plans for the remaining $16.1m have been made, but it is ultimately the decision of the South Sudanese government as to when and how that happens. Around $4m could be reallocated by the government for refugee education if it wishes to do so. External challenges including instability have slowed implementation, but my colleagues are in close contact with the government and other partners to encourage the government to move ahead expeditiously.
GPE partners with more than 60 developing countries, helping to build stronger school systems. Historically refugee education has been neglected, which is why GPE is also a co-founder of Education Cannot Wait, a new fund for education in emergencies. There is a long way to go to get education to all the world’s most vulnerable children, but GPE is the only global fund that is solely focused on that mission, working with developing countries, donors and all other stakeholders to deliver on the longstanding promise of education for all.
CEO, Global Partnership for Education
• Congratulations to Larry Elliott and Jason Burke (Thousands of lives at risk of South Sudan cholera outbreak, 3 July) for analysing so clearly the scale of the political economic and social crisis now facing South Sudan, and the challenge this poses for Uganda and for international agencies. They and the UN’s David Shearer are right to highlight that humanitarian aid is necessary but not sufficient by itself. To prevent further breakdown into chaos, South Sudan needs a major programme of coordinated investment in agriculture, roads and telecommunications, clean water and sanitation, healthcare, and above all education, skill training and jobs (along the lines of the Marshall plan which rescued postwar Europe).
In spite of continued volatility at national level, hopeful springboards for rapid reconstruction and development can be found at state and local levels. To take just one example, a network of good girls’ schools is being developed within Maridi and Gbudue states (Ibba girls boarding school, Amref girls science college, Yabongo girls school), providing opportunities for girls to study and learn in spite of the surrounding uncertainties. Although they are a drop in the ocean of need, they are sending out ripples across the country, and provide working demonstrations of what peace might look like in practice.[“Source-theguardian”]