“Educate Girls to Transform South Sudan” – National Girls’ Education Day highlights the importance of educating our girls

July 7, 2020 12:23 pm

Marking the National Girls’ Education Day 2020, the Minister of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI), Hon. Awut Deng Acuil, has highlighted the importance of girls’ education to build a resilient future for South Sudan.

The National Girls’ Education Day was promulgated on the 7th July 2004 by the late Dr John Garang de Mabior to underscore the significance of education of girls in the society. He declared; “Let’s keep the candle burning for girls’ education”. Every year we commemorate this day to celebrate the achievements made in girls education and more importantly highlight barriers that girls face in gaining an education.

Photo credit: Bruno Bierrenbach Feder

Since 2004, education of girls in South Sudan has witnessed some important progress. For example, in half of our schools where we take daily attendance, girls constitute 46% of the pupils. However, the outbreak of Covid-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenges that undermine girls’ education more than before. The pandemic has had a tremendous negative impact on learning in communities where education is not or has never been a priority, especially girls’ education. Millions of girls across the world are currently out of school and at high risk of negative socio-cultural practices that target them mostly in countries, like South Sudan. Incidences of unintended pregnancies, rape, abuse and forced marriage increase across South Sudan during this period.

Therefore, this year theme, “Educate Girls to Transform South Sudan”, reminds us of the potential girls’ education and women empowerment hold for South Sudan. And the problems faced by girls in education. Hon. Awut Deng Acuil opined that:

“A lot needs to be done in strengthening the communities to remove barriers and harmful cultures that prevent girls from accessing education. This will ensure that we do not lose the impressive gains we have made in girls’ education in recent years.”

She urges us to double our efforts to uphold the ideals that promote girls’ education. With the present challenging situation of Covid-19 pandemic, the Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI), together with partners, will continue to ensure that children continue learning whilst at home as preparations are made for the safe re-opening of schools. There is an ongoing education on air, online modules for leaners, recorded lessons for hard to reach population, provision of radio handsets for the disadvantaged communities, cash transfers paid to girls and ongoing community awareness.

Thus, the outbreak of COVID-19 has offered us an opportunity to rethink the way in which we can deliver education. This will lead to a country where a girl is not just a community member but a decision maker; a South Sudan where girls go to school and are well educated, for the community to be healthier, wealthier and safer.

The Honourable Minister seizes this opportunity to appreciate the donors USAID, UK aid, Global Affairs Canada, Save the Children International and others for their continued commitment to girls’ education in South Sudan. Together with our partners who are supporting the National Girls’ Education Day celebrations – Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS), UNESCO, UNICEF, PLAN International and Save the Children International – we will ensure that girls’ education remains firmly on the national agenda.

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