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File photo shows local students sit for the university entry examinations at the China-aided Jubek Model Secondary School in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Feb.12, 2018. (Xinhua/Gale Julius)

Schools have reopened in South Sudan after closure for more than one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

JUBA, May 4 (Xinhua) -- Schools reopened Monday in South Sudan after closure for more than one year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hussein Abdelbagi Akol, vice president in charge of service cluster, said the decision came in the wake of the recent drop in COVID-19 infections since March.

"COVID-19 is still with us but we have decided to reopen schools and will strictly follow COVID-19 preventative measures in the schools," Akol told journalists in Juba during the official reopening for learners.

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File photo shows students pump water at the Chinese Friendship Secondary School in Juba, capital of South Sudan, Aug. 17, 2016. (Xinhua/Gale Julius)

He, however, noted that schools will only operate at half capacity as preventive measures against COVID-19.

Awut Deng Acuil, minister of general education and instruction, urged parents and guardians to enroll their children, including pregnant and breastfeeding girls, adding that the government is doing everything in its power to ensure that schools reopen safely.

She revealed that the reopening of schools came after the Girls' Education South Sudan (GESS), an education program, and the Global Partnership for Education, a partnership and funding platform that aims to strengthen education systems in developing countries, provided funds to enable distribution of water sanitation and hygiene supplies, thermometers, reusable masks and menstrual hygiene management kits.

The South Sudan government in partnership with GESS will pay capitation grants, in addition to cash transfers, to girls at levels from primary 5 to senior 4, she disclosed.

The schools were shut down in March 2020 and the government reopened schools in phases with final year students allowed to attend classes in October 2020. 

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