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Academic success in South Sudan

Exam pass rates soar as meals drive success in schools.

Published on

At the end of every school year, children across the world wait anxiously for exam results, but perhaps never more so than in 2021.

According to UNICEF data, around one in seven children globally missed more than three-quarters of their in-person learning in the 2020/2021 academic year. As in so many countries, South Sudan spent last year in a state of constant disruption, with schools closing to try and curb the spread of Covid-19 and many children forced to find work to supplement their family’s loss of income.

In South Sudan, children sit the Certificate of Primary Education in Grade 8 and are examined in English, mathematics, social studies, science and religious studies. The outcome of these exams is crucial, as only those who pass can progress to high school. Historically, the exams would take place at the start of the year and results delivered after one month, but because of delays caused by the pandemic, children had to wait a nerve-wracking four and a half months to find out how they fared.

children in an outdoor school class gathered round a chalkboard on a tree

For students at All Saints school, the wait was worth it, as all 35 Grade 8 students passed with amazing results. The top marks in the class were achieved by two boys and two girls – an incredible outcome in a country where many girls cannot complete their education or even attend school at all, and they’re not alone.

Pass rates in schools supported by Mary’s Meals and our partner, Diocese of Rumbek, are flourishing, and many of the schools are among the best performing in the state. This pattern of incredible academic performance has encouraged even more parents to enrol their children in school for the upcoming year – rewriting the story for children across the country.

Every school day, almost 70,000 children in South Sudan receive Mary’s Meals in their place of education. Not only are the meals helping them to have the best possible chance of succeeding in their exams but they are giving them the tools they need to embark on the next stage of their young lives.