South Sudan needs "massive" literacy campaign

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Children at old Kapuri school in South Sudan. UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

South Sudan won't go very far in the future because 80 per cent of people cannot read and write, a senior United Nations official has warned.

Toby Lanzer, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator in South Sudan spoke as the year drew to a close and the conflict continued in the newest African nation.

The fighting broke out in December 2013 between government forces and rebels loyal to a former Vice President who was sacked.

Close to two million people have been displaced by the conflict and over 100,000 of them have sought refuge in the bases of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

Mr Lanzer spoke of a bleak future for the country.

"I think the sad truth is South Sudan won't go very far in the future if 80 of the people can't read or write. Let's be realistic about this. If you have 80 per cent of the people in South Sudan who cannot read or write, the future is unlikely to be very bright. You need a massive literacy campaign and you need it rolled out for women in particular, men also, in every county of this country." (25")

Mr. Lanzer has asked all parties in the country’s ongoing conflict to respect aid workers and to support efforts to send children back to school in 2015.

Derrick Mbatha

Duration:1'27"

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