Definition of Youth

The Sudan Tribune on 29 August 2013, defined youth, according to the 2008 Sudan Housing and Population Census, as between 18-35 years. Youth consist of 70% of the South Sudanese population.


Marriageable Age

  • Opposite Sex
  • Same Sex
  • Without parental consent
  • with parental consent
  • Male
  • 18
  • --
  • XX
  • Female
  • 18
  • --
  • XX

  • Child Law outlaws marriage to a child (defined as below 18), however Small Arms Survey states that many marriages are governed by "personal law" with no consistent age. Homosexual acts illegal. Source: UNSD, ILGA, Child Law (2008), Small Arms Survey (n.d)

Candidacy Age

Criminal Responsibility

Minimum Age
From 12-14 years old, the state must prove criminal capacity. A child below 12 cannot be held legally responsible for their actions. Source:  Child Act

Majority Age


Source: Child Act (2008)

Voting Age


The first post-independence elections were due in 2015, but have been postponed.
Source:  National Elections Act of South Sudan

Situation of Young People

Literacy Rates

Both sexes (15-24) %
  • -- Male (15-24) %
  • -- Female (15-24) %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

Net Enrolment Rate

Secondary School
Both sexes %
  • --Male %
  • -- Female %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: UNESCO

Situation of Young People

Prevalence of HIV

Male (15-24) %
Female (15-24) %

Tobacco Use

Consumed any smokeless or smoking tobacco product at least once 30 days prior to the survey.
Both sexes (13-15) %
  • -- Male (13-15) %
  • -- Female (13-15) %
  • Year: No data.
  • Source: WHO

Policy & Legislation

Is there a national youth policy?
The youth policy is under revision. A 2012 youth report (longer) and a 2012 employment briefing exist.

According to a UNICEF press release on 10 July 2012, a series of consultations have been completed to, “provide input to the revision of the existing policy document that was developed prior to the independence of South Sudan, 9 July 2011.” This national consultation, entitled “Youth LEAD”, resulted in a full report (2012) and summary version (2012). According to Voices of Youth, this will become a baseline study for the new national youth policy, which revises the policy of 2006-2007.

The youth report (2012) notes that a revised youth policy was due in 2012, however no updated version can be found online. A press release on 29 August 2013 states that the updated version will focus on youth unemployment.

Public Institutions

Is there a governmental authority
(ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth?
The Ministry of Culture, Youth & Sports (MoCYS) is responsible for youth affairs and the national youth policy, promotion of youth activities and projects, youth services, youth organisations, youth centres and hostels, youth sport activities, and developing policies on youth development.   According to the Youth Unemployment briefing (2012), the Ministry of General Education and Instruction has a unit responsible for youth education, and a dedicated Youth Directorate exists within the Ministry of Gender, Child and Social Welfare.

Youth and Representation

Does the country have a national youth organisation / association (council, platform, body)?
A South Sudan Youth Forum is mentioned online, as having existed since 1983 and being a national platform for youth councils and youth NGOs. However, there is no recent online activity, nor further mention of the Forum in governmental or international agency reports. It is therefore unclear if the Forum is still currently active.

According to an article on 4 December 2013, “youth are not organized into youth governing body to raise their issues to the government” and there is a “lack of platform for exchange of best practice.”

Budget & Spending

What is the budget allocated to the governmental authority (ministry, department or office) that is primarily responsible for youth and/or youth programming?
No documentation on the budget for youth in South Sudan could be found online. The World Bank does not calculate spending on education as a percentage of government expenditure or GDP for South Sudan since 2000.
Total Expenditure on Education as a Percentage of Government Spending and GDP

  • % of GDP
  • % of gov. expenditure

Source: World Bank
Gaps indicate missing data from the original data source. South Sudan declared its independence on July 9, 2011. Data are shown separately for South Sudan where available. However, data reported for Sudan include South Sudan unless otherwise noted. (Accessed May 2014).

Additional Background

The BBC Country Profile – South Sudan (2014), provides an overview of the countries recent independence:
South Sudan gained independence from Sudan in July 2011 as the outcome of a 2005 peace deal that ended Africa's longest-running civil war.
An overwhelming majority of South Sudanese voted in a January 2011 referendum to secede and become Africa's first new country since Eritrea split from Ethiopia in 1993.
The young state plunged into crisis in December 2013 amid a power struggle between the president and his deputy whom he had sacked.
Fighting between government troops and rebel factions erupted, and within weeks the conflict had killed thousands and prompted more than 800,000 to flee their homes. Oil production fell drastically.
The youth report (2012) provides a brief situation analysis of South Sudan since gaining independence in 2011:
In July, the newly independent Republic of South Sudan (RSS) secured statehood and immediately dropped to the bottom of the world's development indexes. Since schools were closed or destroyed throughout much of the population's childhood, about three-quarters of adults are unable read. Only 1 percent of households have a bank account. Half of Southern Sudanese (50.6%) live beneath the national poverty line of 72.6 South Sudanese Pounds (SSP) per month and 47% are food deprived. As a result, the vast majority of South Sudanese face numerous challenges in securing sustainable livelihoods to support themselves and their families.
The huge influx of refugees and internally displaced people further complicated the existing political dynamics in the state. During the course of decades of war, millions of southerners fled north to escape the fighting and conflict. Since the 2005 CPA, those who fled have been returning back to their homes in the south. More than 350,000 individuals returned to South Sudan in 2011 alone.
With more than 70% of the population under the age of 30, the country’s stability and future development depends on its ability to target young people in its relief and development programming. By ensuring that these young people experience a safe, healthy, and productive transition to adulthood, South Sudan will also be on its way towards the realization of the Millennium Development Goals and ensuring internal stability. Particular attention to young women, such as those who are isolated due to traditional practices associated with bride wealth, will both build the skill base of young people and ensure gender equity in a new country.
The Youth Unemployment briefing (2012) outlines to challenges of youth employment:
Youth unemployment is high in South Sudan. Insufficient labour demand, lack of skilled labour supply, absence of a coherent government policy, and the lack of a sound legal and regulatory framework limit the absorption of youth by the labour market. [...]
Employers complain about the youth attitude to work as being utterly poor. This is true especially of the refugee and internally displaced persons, who have been affected by the legacy of donations and food support programmes by international NGOs carried out during the long period of war. Employers further complain that local youth seek high salaries and wages relative to the amount of work they are supposed to perform. Many job seekers equate themselves with the well organised, more experienced and better paid youth from neighbouring countries. [...]
The young people complain about foreign employers as being discriminatory, and domestic employers as uncommunicative. The youth become more disillusioned as much of the private sector employment sector is being dominated by foreign businesses and this problem could become a recipe for conflict if it is not addressed by policies. [...]
The majority of returning youths are from urban centres and are urbanised in their approach to life. Since their arrival in the rural areas following the massive transportation of returnees, more than 80% have left the rural areas where their parents have settled and migrated to urban centres all over South Sudan. This has created another crisis, as most of them have become idlers in the towns they have moved to resulting in the escalation of unemployment and petty crime in the towns. The loss of skills by the youth during the war period has also created a potential to participate in violence and crime. Sources of employment need to be identified for these young people. [...]