The socio-economic impact of COVID 19 on education in South Sudan: A case study on the experiences of children with disabilities and their parents in Juba county, central Equitoria, 2020.
National Education Coalition, South Sudan
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Children with disabilities have a higher chance to miss out on school, compared to other children. even if they are able to attend school, they are likely to leave before they finish school, missing out on the long-term benefits of having an education. Children with disabilities are often left more vulnerable in situations of conflict and natural disasters in reference to the numerous civil wars, which have crippled the development of South Sudan. Natural disasters like Ebola and the current pandemic Covid 19, that have threatened the current progress of making education inclusive for children with disabilities, as these children are more vulnerable in the current uncertain periods of the pandemic, they are exposed to violations, physical and mental abuse that had been previously been shielded from by attending school. The following study is set to assess the socio-economic impact of COVID 19 on education in South Sudan, focusing on case studies of the experiences of children with disabilities and their parents in Juba county, central Equitoria. The National education coalition seeks to create a platform that will contribute to public discussions and public awareness triggering discussions, policy making and response planning geared towards the betterment of the lives of children with disabilities. The study was conducted among 81 families with children with disabilities conveniently sampled within Juba County. The collection of data was done through key informant interviews, in-depth interviews, observation, and case narratives. Data collected through questionnaires was analyzed through SPSS and excel, while observation was presented pictorially. Study findings revealed that the South Sudanese children with disabilities face a number of socio-economic challenges during the Covid 19 pandemic including, inadequate basic needs, lack of protection, security needs, inadequate economic resources, harassment and exploitation, and sexual and gender-based violence. It was established that the South Sudanese parents with children who had disabilities had come up with various ways to deal with the challenges they faced to cater for their children’s needs, which included relying on humanitarian aid, seeking protection, engaging in trade and exchange of services, as some were single parents up the role of being the sole breadwinners in their families to provide for their children. Some of the parents had received relief to cope with the pandemic but others had not been able to receive anything. It is therefore, recommended that these problems be addressed by those capable to better the lives of children with disabilities and their families, the guardians and parents of children with disabilities need to have their capacities built in order to cater for their children’s needs. the parents should also be allowed to participate in the affairs of their children’s educational needs establishing a sense of ownership and inclusiveness, mechanisms should also be put in place to ensure strictness is observed while dealing with issues of social justice like rape, gender-based violence, and exploitation of children with disabilities are dealt with accordingly.