This article was last updated on May 25, 2022
Forced marriages have been reported as major practices among the communities that put girl-child education at risk and force many girls out of school.
Majority of school girls in Jonglei state have called for tougher laws that will protect them during their studies till they finish all levels of education in both lower and higher institutions within South Sudan.
In most of the school in Bor, only minority of the girls are seen in various schools with boys dominating the numbers.
The Head Teacher at Bor Public Primary School, Ezekiel Kol John has said that school registers consider number of girls in lower classes only.
“But when they reach upper classes they drop. For example, now I have 62 candidates and out of 62, we have only eight girls which is very less,” Kol said.
Bor Public is not the only school with declining numbers of girls in upper classes.
Head Teacher of Bor A mixed Primary School also says out of 67 class eight pupils, only 13 are girls.
That means, only few girls from these schools will join secondary school at the start of the next academic year in 2014.
A 15-year-old, Adhieu Deng Paul, is one the few girls in standard eight still pushing on with studies. She said that there are several cultural practices among the community in Jonglei State which has forced some of her friends to abandon their
She said that any girl who reached an age of about 13 or 15 years is forced to marry and that is why many girls do drop out of school adding that some parents are lacking money to pay the school fees and these lets the parents not to allow their daughters to study.
Adhieu said many parents see their daughters as a source of income to the family, and for that reason, she says, many parents deny education to a girl child whenever there are options to be considered.
Aside from forced marriages and lack of school fees, 16-year-old Achol Ajak Ajok also in Primary eight says domestic work such as cooking for the family is another major issue that affects performance of many girls in the class and eventually forces them to surrender.
“If it is me, we can build boarding schools for all girls. They can just stay there reading, do what. All boys and girls have the same ability. If they are in boarding school they can perform the way boys do,” she said.
She said that her community traditions prevent boys from cooking at home level.
Despite those challenges surrounding girl-child education in this state, Achol is determined to reach the university. She says she has a secret on how to avoid forced marriage and pursue her education to higher institutions.
“One day, another woman came to us and told us that if your parents force you to get married at this age and you don’t want that man to marry you, you can just come to us and we can just talk to your parents,” she says.
South Sudan’s Child Act 2009 stipulates that every child has the right to free compulsory education at primary level.
The Country’s Transitional Constitution also says that all levels of government shall
promote education at all levels and shall ensure free and compulsory education at the primary level.
In South Sudan 7.3% of girls are married before they reach 15 and 42.2% between the ages of 15 and 18. This is contributing to the large numbers of girls who are dropping out of primary school before the end of the eight-year cycle; while around 37% of girls enrol in primary school, only around 7% complete the curriculum and only 2% go on to enrol in secondary school.
The passing of the Child Act in 2008 represented a key milestone in legal reform for safeguarding children’s rights in South Sudan and prohibits the marriage of children under the age of 18. However, knowledge and implementation of the law remains limited.
Young girls say these laws are usually violated by many parents here.
Although girls pinned the blame on their parents, some parents like Philip Akuen Deng says part of the problems lies between the girls and boys.
Akuen said not all parents forced their girls to marry. He says while some parents want to see their girls excel in studies, some other parents use their girls as a source of income especially when the family is so poor.