Theme: Investing in Girls’ Education Transforms Society
Today marks exactly 19 years since the launch of National Girls’ Education Day in South Sudan. National Girls’ Education Day was designated on 7th July 2004 by the late Dr John Garang de Mabior to keep girls’ education on the Government of South Sudan’s agenda. On that day in 2004, he lit a candle and said, “Let’s keep the candle burning for girls’ education”.
Every year on this day, Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) aspires to continue the legacy of Dr John Garang de Mabior by highlighting the unique barriers girls face in gaining an education in South Sudan, celebrating progress made to remove those barriers, and taking stock of what more can be done. On this day, GESS initiates and/or highlights conversations on the importance of education, and calls upon all education stakeholders, including parents, community leaders, teachers, school management committees, and the government, to keep girls’ education on the agenda.
Girls and young women in South Sudan, especially those in rural communities still suffer from negative socio-cultural biases that are a major barrier to their education. These challenges are even worse for girls with disabilities. Though efforts have been made to ensure that girls enrol, stay in school, and complete their education, they are still disproportionately affected by negative societal beliefs and financial barriers, amongst others.
Through the programme’s behaviour change communication, cash transfers, capitation grants, and interventions to improve the quality of learning, there has been progress made in the enrolment and retention rates not only for girls but for all children including children with disabilities.
Positive progress has been made in girls’ enrolment which has increased from 38% in 2014 to 50.03% in 2022. The behaviour change activities, including the radio programme ‘Our School’ has reached over two million people with messages on the importance of education and over one million girls have received cash transfers in GESS2.
Through funding from the UK, Canada, USA, and the EU, the GESS Programme continues to address barriers to girls’ education across South Sudan.
GESS is working collaboratively with the Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI) and State Ministries of Education to ensure that girls’ education in South Sudan is prioritised, with the aim of continuing to improve their enrolment, retention, and completion in primary and secondary schools.
As the theme for this year’s celebration states, ‘investing in girls’ education transforms society,’ we call upon the government to continue considering funding towards education as a priority and keep girls’ education on the agenda. “Education provides higher employment opportunities and income, enhanced skills, and improved social status, and also enables individuals to play active roles in the development of their respective countries.’’ Tawanda Madhangi, GESS Deputy Team Leader.
On this National Girls’ Education Day, we call upon all stakeholders to give equal importance to girls’ education as they would to boys. Transformation in the nation cannot be achieved without the contribution of women, and women cannot fully contribute without an education.
Let us keep girls’ education on the agenda to realise the growth we all need!
The GESS programme is funded by UK aid, the Government of Canada, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the European Union. The Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI) supports the GESS programme, which is managed by implementing partners who provide technical advice. These implementing partners include Cambridge Education/Mott MacDonald as the consortium lead, BBC Media Action, Montrose, and Windle Trust International, together with seven State Anchor NGOs who implement the programme in the ten states and three Administrative Areas of South Sudan.
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