“I decided to come to school because I knew that I would not be chased away. I heard that pregnant learners should not be sent away from school so when I came, the teachers were supportive”, Nyaluide, Senior 1 learner, Juba.
In the last quarter of 2020, Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) together with the Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI), carried out a pregnancy mapping exercise to understand the impact of the COVID-19 related school closures on learners. As the lockdown progressed, reports of girls becoming pregnant were rising. The mapping carried out in 2,404 schools established that 4,780 learners were pregnant in 2020.
As schools reopened for candidate classes, there were reports of pregnant and nursing learners being denied their right to sit for examinations and to continue with their education. In response, MoGEI issued a landmark circular in January 2021, instructing school management and teachers to allow pregnant and nursing learners back to school to sit their examinations and to complete their education.
During the recent Cash Transfer validation exercise, GESS witnessed a supportive environment for that pregnant learners in schools across the country: “We got the circular and we felt we were being given a responsibility to ensure that these girls (pregnant learners) feel comfortable and continue with their studies. Now the school has resolved that the pregnant learners can put on dresses that make them feel comfortable when the pregnancy becomes big, we also encourage them not to give up”, Mr Lam Deng Luak, Head Teacher, Future Secondary School, Juba.
GESS encourages all stakeholders, community leaders and parents to allow pregnant girls to continue attending classes and offer them the necessary support to continue learning in schools of their choice. GESS continues to support girls across South Sudan to enrol in school and complete their studies. All girls have a right to an education, including those who are pregnant and nursing.
In this video, shot earlier in 2021 in Bor, we spoke to pregnant and nursing learners to find out what this Ministry directive means to them:Tags: Behaviour Change, Covid-19, Early and Unintended Pregnancy, Early Pregnancy, EducationCannotWait, FCDO, GESS, girls' education, Global Affairs Canada, Quality Education, South Sudan, UKaid