In a landmark moment for pregnant girls, the Ministry of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI) has issued a circular that ordes that pregnant learners must be able to sit their examinations and finish their education.
Early and unplanned pregnancy amongst schoolgirls has been a major cause of school dropout in South Sudan. It is widely believed that the number of girls that have become pregnant has risen due to COVID-19 related school closures.
Results from a recent nationwide assessment, conducted by MoGEI and Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS), indicates that over 4,780 schoolgirls were pregnant at the time of the study (October), many of whom are being at risk of being refused access to schools to sit their examinations and/or to finish their education, which is against Ministerial directives.
Honourable Undersecretary, Kuyok Abol Kuyok, of the Ministry of General Education and Instruction, stated that, “All pregnant learners shall be permitted to register for and sit their final examinations. No pregnant learner shall be refused access to education or examination and all shall proactively be encouraged to continue their education.”
South Sudan’s General Education Act (2012) stipulates that “education shall be accessible to all citizens in South Sudan without discrimination on the basis of sex, race, ethnicity, health status including HIV/AIDS, gender or disability”.
In addition to this, the Child Act 2008 explicitly states that “no girl can be expelled from school due to pregnancy and that young mothers must be allowed to continue their education”.
The Ministry is calling on head teachers, School Management Committees/Boards of Governors and Parent-Teacher Associations, along with local Ministry officials, to ensure that all vulnerable learners, including pregnant learners, are permitted to continue their education, and to sit upcoming examinations. MoGEI and GESS are calling for the cooperation of parents and guardians in holding school management bodies accountable, and to support these girls to continue their education so that we can empower our girls to continue their education and realise their future potential.
Countries around the world, including South Sudan, committed to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the focus of which is to ensure that “no one is left behind,” including a promise to ensure inclusive and quality education for all. Access to education for all is a basic human right. It is our obligation to uphold this.
To report any cases in which pregnant learners are denied their right to education, or to sit their examinations, please call the free hotline number ‘623’ (South Sudan only).
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