Juzella is a Primary 7 learner at Hope Primary School in Juba County of Central Equatoria State. She is an orphan and lives with her aunt, Flora, who has a small business in the market west of Juba town. Flora is a 36-year-old single mother of four.
Juzella’s parents passed away when she was three years. Since then, she has struggled to find sufficient financial and moral support for her education. Juzella and her two younger siblings live with their aunt and four cousins. “The challenges are huge for my aunt. At times we sleep hungry because there is no money to buy food,” Juzella said. In South Sudan, many women are faced with extraordinary challenges, including, but not limited to, sexual and gender-based violence, economic hardships, conflict and displacement.
“[There is] a lot of violence against women in the country. Issues related to early marriage or forced marriage are common, which affect the young girls, leading to school dropout. Parents are marrying off their daughters to get resources to curb the economic situation,” lamented the Head Teacher of Hope Primary School.
When we spoke to Juzella, it was a joyous day for her and the school as a whole, “Today, I am very happy to receive my cash transfer alongside my friends and (give thanks) to the donors for the immense support to girls, without which some wouldn’t have reached Primary 7,” she said.
Cash transfers are direct payments made to girls in upper primary and secondary schools. Cash transfers inspire girls to enrol in and attend school, help them to buy basic materials they need to keep them in school, and contribute to poverty reduction in the family and the community.
“My aunt promised to continue supporting me if I work hard,” Juzella explained. Without the annual cash transfer payment, which Juzella has been receiving since she was in Primary 5, it would have been difficult to cover enrolment fees and to buy enough sanitary pads to ensure consistent attendance. The cash transfer has helped Juzella complete her tuition, sit her examinations (for which there is also a small fee), buy sanitary pads, and contribute a small amount to support her aunt’s business.
In 2022, about 71,307 girls in 619 schools in Central Equatoria State received the cash transfers. Only girls who were enrolled, validated, and who hold a valid Cash Transfer Enrolment Form (CTEF) with a Learners’ Unique ID received the cash transfer. In addition, only girls whose Unique ID on the enrolment record matches the one on their CTEF were paid.
Hope Primary School is a faith-based school, which opened at the start of COVID-19 in 2020 in Northern Bari Payam. In 2021, only 33 girls received the GESS cash transfer. The number increased to 53 girls in 2022. In 2022, girls in candidate classes (Primary 8 and Senior 4) received SSP 14,000 to ensure that they are equipped to deal with the higher financial pressure associated with final examinations. Whereas other classes, from Primary 5 upwards, received SSP 11,000.
“With the additional support from GESS, I want to finish school and be a doctor to treat the sick,” Juzella added. According to Juzella, her parents died of sickness that would have been treated by a doctor, but there was no doctor in her village at that time.
The cash transfer exercise in 2022 began in November. To date, over 348,000 schoolgirls have received a cash transfer. Girls in areas inaccessible due to floods and insecurity are yet to receive the cash, but the team continues to work hard to make sure that all eligible girls receive the money.
To read more about cash transfer, go to our website.