Laws should send girls to school, Western Bahr El-Ghazal official says

11 Oct 2013

Laws should send girls to school, Western Bahr El-Ghazal official says

11 October 2013 - Laws should be passed forcing parents to send their daughters to school and protect them against early marriages, a top official said today in Wau, Western Bahr El-Ghazal State.

“We need you to make laws in the assembly that force all parents to send their daughters to school”, state Minister of Education Morris Yel Akol said at a Wau Youth Centre celebration marking International Day of the Girl Child.

“This day is very important because it cares about girls’ education, and girls are the backbone of the society,” Minister Akol added. “If you have an educated wife at home there will be medical care for children, there will be a good environment for children, and there will be good upbringing for children.”

Recognizing the need for fresh and creative ways of sending girls to school, the theme of International Day of the Girl Child in South Sudan this year is ‘Innovating for Girls’ Education’.

Only 17 per cent of the country’s girls currently complete the eight-year primary school cycle, according to the General Education Strategic Plan (2012-2017).

Finances, cultural barriers, early marriages, sexual harassment and violence in and out of educational settings prohibit the majority from attending school, noted a statement released by UNICEF.

“The situation is particularly alarming for South Sudan where a girl is three times more likely to die in child birth than complete Grade 8,” UNICEF Chief of Basic Education and Gender Equality Simon Mphisa said in the statement.

“An incomplete education means unfulfilled potential,” Mr. Mphisa said. “Therefore, there is need to come up with innovative ways of ensuring that girls not only enrol in school but stay in school, learn and complete their education.”

UNICEF, the government and other partners were using innovation to reach children at the greatest risk of being out of school. Innovation can mean new ways of overcoming barriers, like improving sanitary facilities and keeping girls safe as they walk to and from educational facilities.

The South Sudanese government, with support from partners, had embraced the Accelerated Learning Programme, which ensured that girls who had dropped out of school could still complete their education, Minister of Education, Science and Technology John Gai Yoah, said in the statement.

The programme was also focusing on “community mobilization and advocacy to promote girls’ education, the introduction of school feeding programmes and provision of child-friendly schools with adequate sanitary facilities as a way of ensuring that girls complete their education,” Mr. Yoah said.

The Day’s celebration in Wau, which kicked with a procession of teachers, female students and pupils from all Wau schools, was organized by the state Ministry of Education and supported by UNICEF.