Along with its partners the GESS team is fully operational and is continuing to support the people of South Sudan to maintain its education sector. The Programme is working at scale and will flexibly place greater emphasis on the resilience and recovery of school communities that have been affected by on-going conflict. The GESS team continues to assess and adapt to the current operational context by aiding girls especially, but not singularly, so that they can continue to access quality education. As the Honourable Minister of Education, Deng Deng Yai, recently stated: "Education cannot wait. We cannot wait until conflict ends. The right time is now."
Some key headlines
- More pupils than ever before have been enrolled on the South Sudan Schools' Attendance Monitoring System (SSSAMS - www.sssams.org) – a total of 1.26million in 3,407 schools. Schools have also reported pupil attendance reports to SSSAMS via SMS more regularly: 56% of schools that have submitted enrolment figures have reported this year, and 43% of schools have sent at least five attendance reports so far in 2016 Enrolment totals registered in 2016 to date: Total: 1,261,189 pupils; Girls: 533,571; Boys: 727,618.
- A total of 2,116 primary schools (68% of all primary schools) and 118 secondary schools (53% of all secondary schools) have qualified for a school Capitation Grant in 2016, to date. In the former states of Central Equatoria and Warrap over 70% of the total primary schools in the state qualified. Additional schools are expected to qualify in the coming months.
- The number of girls eligible for cash transfers as of August 3rd was 182,626, compared to 138,000 last year. This is a result of increased enrolment in 2016. The validation process has already started and the schools are expected to complete this by mid-August, upon which the payments can begin.
A girl waits to receive her cash transfer
Following the most recent fighting in Juba, GESS partner, BBC Media Action, was able to contact all 29 partner radio stations to confirm that they were continuing to broadcast repeats of the ‘Our School’ programme on schedule. And aside from the State Anchor (SA) in former Central Equatoria, all other State Anchors were able to continue with community mobilization activities at the county level.
The Quality Education team continues to implement and prepare for the following trainings: monthly training to School Management Committees and Boards of Governors on school development planning and implementing; refresher trainings to head teachers on writing School Development Plans and Budgets; school-based training for 1718 teachers on positive pedagogy; mentoring support to secondary schools girls in 69 schools; teachers in 220 schools are being assisted in developing teaching and learning materials from locally available resources; and the team is also preparing for the rollout of training for the Payam Education Supervisors.
Earlier this year, BBC Media Action also undertook a nationwide survey, analysing data to assess knowledge, attitudes and practices relating to education and girls' education. The survey involved interviews with 3,169 people across accessible locations in all ten states of South Sudan, and the results are now being analysed.
As well as continuing to drive the cash transfer and capitation grant initiatives, GESS partner, Charlie Goldsmith Associates, is also now undertaking a nationwide survey to assess the impact of the programme on girls' enrolment; attendance; and achievement in schools; community attitudes; and enabling and hindering factors. Teams have so far visited 75 schools, and will access more in the coming weeks.
The GESS team continues to be impressed by the resilience and determination of government officers, teachers and pupils throughout South Sudan who are committed to delivering and achieving quality education, irrespective of the enormous challenges. As one student at a secondary school in Yambio, Western Equatoria, put it: "We struggle, but… school is the best thing all over the world".
Teachers and students in Bor with GESS Midline team.