New film shows how UK aid is supporting girls to overcome conflict and famine and achieve in school
A new film being launched at the Houses of Parliament in London yesterday showcases how UK aid’s Girls’ Education South Sudan is reaching more than 200,000 girls in famine and conflict-hit South Sudan.
South Sudan is one of the toughest places on earth to be a girl in 2017. Famine has been declared in parts of the country. People are already dying of hunger. The UN has warned that 100,000 people face starvation, a further one million are on the brink of famine, and half the population face severe food shortages. The conflict that started in December 2013 has left 1.8 million people displaced within the country and a further 1.4 million refugees in neighbouring countries.
Despite insecurity, economic collapse and logistical struggles, UK aid’s Girls’ Education in South Sudan (GESS) programme is continuing to successfully deliver its aim of educating the poorest and most vulnerable girls, transforming a generation through girls’ education.
Over the last three years, GESS has reached over 3,500 schools with more than 9000 school grants, funding classrooms, latrines, books and much more, paid over 300,000 cash transfers to more than 180,000 girls, and reached 2 million listeners with radio programmes aimed at changing the negative socio-cultural attitudes towards educating girls.
Everything GESS does is recorded in real time, and fully disaggregated, on www.sssams.org, so that everyone can see how UK aid funding has been used. GESS works closely with UK civil society partners, including Friends of Ibba Girls School, Windle Trust, Africa Educational Trust, Diocese of Salisbury, and many more.
A rigorous impact assessment (http://girlseducationsouthsudan.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/Cash-Grants-Impact-on-Enrolment-and-Attendance.pdf) found that GESS’ cash transfers and grants make schools more likely to remain open, increase their enrolment numbers, and increase attendance rates, despite the violent conflict. Through GESS’ own research schools have reported how they have improved their infrastructure, employed more teachers, and we have seen improvements in girls’ learning outcomes, especially in primary schools.
Even in the worsening crisis in 2017, GESS has already received reports from more than 2500 schools: UK aid is helping to hold together the social fabric of South Sudan, at a time when it is under maximum pressure. Education can do more than mend the damage caused by conflict; it can help with long-term processes of peace building; strengthening and sustaining the social fabric of the nation; as well as providing essential building blocks for the long-term development of South Sudan, highly significant in a country where school-age children make up more than one third of the population.
This new film was launched in the Houses of Parliament on Wednesday at an event hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sudan and South Sudan. It shows the remarkable progress made by GESS in helping girls achieve despite man-made catastrophe. But with two thirds of South Sudan’s school-age children not in school, support from UK aid and UK civil society will remain crucial to transforming the lives of a generation of children in the world’s newest nation, especially girls.
The All-Party Parliamentary Group on Sudan and South Sudan hosted the launch of Girls’ Education South Sudan’s film on Wednesday 29th March, as part of a public panel event on girls’ education in South Sudan, featuring James Wharton MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary for the Department for International Development, Akuja Mading de Garang MBE, Team Leder of Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS), and Liz Hodgkin, expert author on South Sudan, former teacher in Eastern Equatoria state.
The film – ‘Girls’ Education South Sudan – Inspire. Educate. Transform.’ was produced by Medical Aid Films (MAF). MAF use film and innovative media to transform the health and wellbeing of women and children around the world.