By Simon Deng
The South Sudan government said it is concerned by the high rate of school girl dropout due to the number of pregnancies reported during COVID-19 partial lockdown and early marriages.
A statement by the Ministry of General Education said it is looking towards increase enrolment of the girl child through the donor supported Girl Education in South Sudan (GESS) program in order to mitigate the situation.
“It is on the agenda of the government of South Sudan to ensure all children receive quality education as it is a right of the child, a lot needs to be done in communities in terms of quality and access to education, to ensure that we do not lose the impressive gain in girls’ education that we have made in recent years,” said Awut Deng Acuil, the Minister of General Education on Wednesday in Juba.
The UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) in its latest report dubbed “Child Rights Crisis in South Sudan” notes that limited access to education and high drop-out rates have left 2.8 million children out of school, the highest proportion of children’s drop-out in the world. It is more than more than 70 per cent of school-age children.
It disclosed that the 14-month school closure due to the pandemic had pushed an additional 2 million children out of school.
The report came prior to the commemoration of the South Sudan National Girls’ Education Day on July 7.
This year, National Girls’ Education Day 2021 is being celebrated under the theme: “Creating a safe and conducive learning environment for the girls during COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.”
Akuja de Garang, the team leader of Girl Child South Sudan or GESS, said that parents and guardians need to support girls’ enrolment in schools to help them pursue their dreams.
“We can play a role in influencing positive change at home, school, the church, mosque, office, community or parliament to demand positive action for women and girls education. Now is the time to fight for our girls,” he said.
According to the State of Adolescents and Youth Report, 2019, 3 out of 10 girls are already mothers in South Sudan.
The report launched in May 2020, showed that four out of 10 girls are already married off before the age of 18.
GESS is a program run by the Ministry of Education with support from UKAID to transform lives of a generation of girls in South Sudan through supporting their education.
It provides cash to school-attending girls to encourage them to remain in school.