Girl Child Education Faces Challenges In Warrap State, Marriages Force Girls Out Of School

This article was last updated on May 27, 2022

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Most of the girls are kept at homes or in the cattle camps to help in household activities or cattle rearing, sources have revealed.

One of the teachers who works in Warrap State and has recently visited Juba has complained that most of the school-girls are being married off by parents even when it is not girls’ choice to marry that particular man.
“Girls are just being married off and may be to men they don’t know or never wanted. This is what is happening deep in villages and even in most of our towns and counties’ headquarters in Warrap State. The case is that whoever has wealth (cattle) can at any time marry any girl
whether in school or underage,” said a teacher who asked for anonymity.

He revealed that in his secondary school there were only 10 girls who have turned up for studies for 2014 academic year but of recent two have been married off or abducted by men who are members of the community and he fears that the remaining 8 may not return next year.
“One of the two girls was very clever. I wished she would continue with her education. And please imagine she had to get married to illiterate cattle keeper, so no future dream of going back to school,” he decried.

“Nobody knows down there that it is girls’ right to refuse unwanted marriages or decline marriage for education purposes. I have witnessed a scenario whereby an SPLA officer came to the village heavily armed just searching to abduct a schoolgirl he wanted to marry. The girl only wanted to continue with the schooling but then it was not up to her. And her parents only wanted cows. This is very discouraging for a teacher,” he said.

Traditional marriages among the Dinka communities are very expensive and grooms are set to pay a lot of cows for girls as wives. It is always the parents of the girls and relatives who benefit from that incoming wealth and therefore parents keep girls tightly in their homes or at cattle camp at the near watch of youthsmonitoring.

While lack of funds and infrastructure, along with a poor and mostly illiterate population, make establishing an effective education system challenging; again there are certain traditional cultural ideas about women which make it more difficult for girls to get an education than their male counterparts.

With 16% female literacy rate, South Sudan ranks lowest in the world. And girl is more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than to graduate from primary school.

“Two of the bigger reasons for girls dropping out of school include early marriage and early pregnancy. The dowry associated with marriage can be a lucrative incentive for parents to marry off their daughters at early age,” a report has said.

Commissioner of Warrap’s Tonj South, William Wol Mayom in the Greater Tonj Conference demanded that Dinka customary laws of Ganun-Wanh Alel be reviewed to reduce the bride price across the region as payment of too much wealth to the girl’s family has contributed negatively to the regional security among the Dinka communities.

A youth member, Mr. Madhieu Thiep Madhieu, seconded that “The reduction of bride price is helping us for security reason and also to boost girl-child education. If we say that a girl will be married now with only 11 cows. Parents will therefore give girls freedom to search for further education because girls won’t bring them more cows again.”

However, Madhieu who was in Tonj conference, said though the proposal of bride price reduction was welcomed, the implementation remains another tough phase to face.
“It was accepted but then implementation remains a major problem. The conference participants have agreed but dispersed to where they came from and the villagers remained unreached. Now with whose daughter shall the new law be utilized on, first? For any parents may say: why first with my daughter?” Madhieu observed.

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