The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) today welcomed South Sudan as its newest Member State.
At a ceremony today in Paris, the flag of South Sudan was raised alongside those of UNESCO's other 193 Member States. The ceremony took place two days after South Sudan completed the procedures for ratifying the agency's constitution.
In her welcome message UNESCO Director-General Irina Bokova noted that the country of eight million people faces "immense challenges", but pledged that her agency would support South Sudan to strengthen its educational system and train teachers.
UNESCO, through its International Institute for Educational Planning, will work with the UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) to draw up a plan to help South Sudanese authorities tackle their major education needs.
A recent report estimated one million South Sudanese children are not in school, the majority of them girls.
UNESCO's latest global monitoring report on education, released in June, found that South Sudan is last in the world for enrolment in secondary education, and second to last when it comes to the number of children in primary schools. There are estimated to be only 400 girls in the final grade of secondary school in the whole country. Just eight per cent of women in South Sudan know how to read and write.
Textbooks are in short supply, usable classrooms are unavailable and there are not nearly enough trained teachers.