The Challenge

South Sudan has been named as the worst country in the world for girls to get an education. A South Sudanese women is around twice as likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than she is to have completed secondary school.

As in many African countries, women and girls are responsible for most household tasks, including cooking and childcare. Collecting water alone can take up to eight hours a day in many villages. But South Sudan has also been disrupted by decades of war and underinvestment, and school enrolment is the world's lowest. By the age of around 10 only 1 in 5 girls are still in school, and before they reach adulthood half of South Sudanese girls are already married. Barriers to education include economic, domestic and cultural pressures and the lack of access to schooling.

The facts

South Sudan


South Sudan began to emerge from nearly four decades of war with Sudan in 2005, when the two main protagonists signed a peace agreement. This enshrined South Sudan's right to self-determination, and it became an independent nation on 9 July 2011.

The struggle for power in the world's newest country turned violent again in late 2013, and since then nearly 400,000 have died as a result, around a fifth as many as those who died in the 1983-2005 civil war. 4.3 million people (over one in 3 of the population) are displaced, over half of them in neighbouring countries.

South Sudan is one of Africa’s least developed countries, and is heavily reliant on oil (over 90% of its national revenue) and international aid. The fall in oil prices during the Covid-19 pandemic has a massive impact on an already struggling country. The country urgently needs to diversify its economy, but this is hampered by political rivalry and the lack of physical infrastructure - and of course by limited education.

Click on the link below for more key facts on South Sudan, read our whistle-stop history of South Sudan here, or the BBC's profile and timeline for the country here.


Back to top ↑