How Poverty Affects Education and Health: Can Technology Help?

Tyra Ryan

August 02, 2020

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South Sudan is one of the world's youngest countries and is considered to be the poorest country in Africa. Eighty percent of its 11 million citizens live in poverty, resulting in an inability to strive academically, and living in much poorer health than is required to survive, let alone thrive. In addition to poverty, South Sudan is known for violence and inequality towards women.

The food shortage that South Sudan faces leaves the people at greater risk when it comes to illnesses and diseases. Seventy-five percent of the population do not have access to health professionals. The South Sudanese people suffer many diseases, with malaria cases at an all-time high. Malaria accounts for 20-40% of all health facility visits, 30% of all hospital admissions, and is the country's leading cause of death. The average life expectancy in South Sudan is 57 years old.

Malnutrition can have a permanent effect on a child's ability to develop. Without proper nutrition, children don't hit critical developmental milestones, which can permanently inhibit their ability to learn and function. According to UNICEF, around 860,000 children under the age of five in South Sudan are acutely malnourished.

The education situation is dire. More than 70 % of school-aged children are not attending and the majority of those children are girls. Due to the gender inequality in South Sudan, women may not attend school due to marriage, religion, and or poverty. Seventy-three percent of adults are said to be illiterate, 84% of women are illiterate, and 42% of civil servants have no more than a primary school education,” (South Sudan, 2020).

Technology is also a dire need in South Sudan. There are tons of young people that are considered to be innovators because they understand what the people of South Sudan really need. An 18-year-old, Francis Jada of South Sudan's capital Juba, is the true definition of an innovator. He took action to clean up the pollution and the plastics in Juba. Francis learned about building robots at a STEM center that is connected to the University of Juba. In a short amount of time Francis as well as other teenagers were able to construct a prototype robot that is able to pick up plastic and pollutants from bodies of water. Francis Jada has shown great skills in technology. It is important that South Sudan's youth takes an interest in technology so that they can solve problems like food insecurities and water shortages.

The future has brighter possibilities, as the country has the so-far-unrealized potential to improve its financial state due to the natural resources that it possesses.

Opinions expressed by the author are not necessarily those of WITI.

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