We will give education priority, promises president Kiir

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President Salva Kiir yesterday said that his government will give education a priority as a cornerstone for recovery from the on-going conflict and sustainable peace.

President Salva Kiir yesterday said that his government will give education a priority as a cornerstone for recovery from the on-going conflict and sustainable peace.

 

At the same time, the president has promised that the country’s national security forces would vacate any schools that are currently being used for military purposes.

 

The president is reported to have said this in a meeting with Irina Bokova, Director General of UNESCO, Leila Zerrougui, Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Children and Armed Conflict, and Forest Whitaker, Special Envoy for UNESCO, when they visited his office.

 

“I am encouraged by the personal commitment of the president to make education a top priority. We need this leadership for education to enable the children and youth of South Sudan to build their own nation,” said Ms. Bokova. “Sustainable peace can only come about if the children and youth of South Sudan are respected and have an opportunity to develop.”

 

During their visit, the UN officials spoke strongly about the importance of education, reconciliation and peace building as well as the protection of children affected by armed conflict.

 

Ms. Bokova said that knowledge was the strongest safeguard against violence and conflict, adding that South Sudan faces a strenuous task to overcome the challenges of illiteracy and girls’ education.

 

 Special Representative Leila Zerrougui emphasized the conflict’s devastating impact on children. She said that the president reiterated an earlier commitment by the minister for defence that the government was committed to work with the UN to fully implement the Action Plan to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

 

 READ RELATED STORY: http://thechristiantimes.net/index.php/template/categories/headline-news/item/860-government-recommits-itself-to-end-use-of-children-in-war

 

 South Sudan is one of eight countries involved in the campaign ‘Children, not Soldiers’, launched in March 2014 by the UN Special Representative for Children and Armed Conflict and UNICEF.

 

The campaign aims to end and prevent the recruitment and use of children by Government security forces and other armed groups.

 

 Peace project

 

 During the visit, Forest Whitaker, UNESCO’s Special Envoy, formally announced his support for the campaign. The Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative seeks to foster peace and reconciliation through a mix of peace education, vocational training and technology in South Sudan.

 

Whitaker expressed his satisfaction that the president had warmly welcomed the launch of the Youth Peacemaker Network in the Equatorias Region. 

 

 READ RELATED STORY: http://thechristiantimes.net/index.php/2014-04-03-10-24-37/peace-and-reconciliation/item/854-peace-cinema-project-to-be-launched-in-south-sudan

 

 While in the country, the delegation met with youth displaced by the conflict and now living in a camp under the protection of the UN in Juba. The youth told them about how they are coping with the effects of the conflict and their aspirations for the future.

 

 The Forest Whitaker Peace and Development Initiative supports youth empowerment through peace-building activities in the camp. The “Cinema for Peace” programme has proved to be popular among young people. It consists of film screenings on peace, prevention of conflict and reconciliation, followed by debates featuring interactive exchanges and role-playing to sensitize audiences to the values and principles underlying a culture of peace and non-violence.

 

 "Throughout all the difficulties that the youth are facing because of the conflict in South Sudan, their willingness to engage inspires me and lets me know that there is hope for tomorrow. Through their intentions a new South Sudan will arise," says Whitaker.

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