Seoyeong Jo/ CONF 340
The article focuses on female education program called Girl’s Education South Sudan (GESS) in South Sudan and how it helps to educate girls and other vulnerable classes who don’t have access to proper education. GESS’s two main activities for promoting girl’s education in South Sudan are radio programe and cash transfers. Through these two main activities, the article will address how GESS reduces the gender gap in education and helps children to get away from the post-war trauma and to have the right to receive education.
The purpose of this article is to propose effective way to implement programs to regain the educational rights of the vulnerable classes, especially to the South Sudan’s educational officials, teachers, non-governmental organizations and international organizations, as well as countries at all levels. Furthermore, this article shows the direction of how to recognize the importance of female education in the community, against patriarchal system, early marriage, and gender discrimination.
Importance of female education
South Sudan is a country that newly emerged in 2011 and still struggling through the pain of civil war. Trauma by civil war and the collapse of social infrastructure have threatened South Sudan’s economy and exacerbated poverty. With this humanitarian crisis, education for children in South Sudan is not secured. According to UNICEF, more than 70% of South Sudanese children, or which is 2 million, are out of the school. Education for children between the ages of 6 and 13 is free and compulsory education in the country, but the nation’s severe famine, unstable security, and low-quality education system are depriving children’s educational opportunities. Among them, the most marginalized children in education are girls, with about 70% of the female population being illiterate. Also, it is very difficult for girls to even access education facilities due to poverty, early marriage, and cultural/religious norms. Thus, the enrolment rates of girls are lower than for boys of all grades.
I think education is the most effective way to solve the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan and it helps to overcome trauma caused by past civil wars. I believe that intensively supporting the education system for all children, especially the underprivileged, will be of great help to the future of South Sudan. There is still a widespread social and religious norm in South Sudan that against female education. However, children where born to an educated mother have a 50% higher chance of survival, and girls who attends school have a lower risk of early marriage, early pregnancy, and sex crimes. Also, educated parents are more likely to send their children to school, which could raise the education rate in South Sudan in the future. Therefore, supporting female education contributes to eliminate early marriage and sexual violence in South Sudan. It can also helps to remove socio-cultural barriers of gender towards education and help girls gain that they hae right to participate in the Sudanese community.
GESS program to support girl’s education
Recognizing the importance and lack of an educational system for female, Ministry of General Education and Instruction of South Sudan implemented the Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) program in 2012. The purpose of the GESS is to provide direct education cash transfer to female students and to seek community change to improve awareness and learning rates for girl’s education.
– MEDIA PROGRAM
As a peace education, GESS uses the radio to promote Social and behavior change towards education. The radio program is a 15-minute-long radio show that addresses the challenges of girls and their families face in school enrollment and learning. The radio interviews the female students, teachers, and parents in seven states. The show tells the anecdotes of the hardships that interviewees face and serves as an educational role model by explaining why education is important to women and suggests how to overcome obstacles. In addition, GESS works with the BBC to produce a radio program called “Our School” and broadcasts on 25 local radio stations and two national stations. Our School mainly emphasizes the advantages that students have when they remain in school and advises parents on solving realistic challenges such as how to get to school safely and how to pay tuition. Moreover, Our School actively communicates with local residents by setting up a section to discuss education directly with listeners over the phone.
– CASH TRANSFER
Another serious education problem in South Sudan is that the student’s school completion rate is very low. Many students, especially girls, quit school mainly for financial reasons, even if they are in the middle of their academic years. Since poverty is a major barrier to education, GESS aims to lower economic barriers for girls to enroll in school and graduate through financial support. Cash transfer is an educational subsidy that is directly paid to girls who enroll in school and attend regularly. All female students at primary and secondary schools who constantly attend school are eligible for cash transfers at least once a year. In 2018, about 200,000 girls benefited from cash transfer. According to a survey conducted by Forcier Consulting in September 2015, GESS’s cash transfer program provided the full amount of cash directly to the recipient student and, in almost all cases, the recipient girl used the money for educational support items such as textbook and notes. In addition, this program helped girls pay for their registration fees.
The greatest achievement of the GESS’s cash transfer program is the establishment of a mechanism to deliver government funds to elementary schools in areas occupied by anti-government militants. South Sudan’s education ministry had no clear way to deliver government funds to anti-government elementary schools. However, cooperation with the UK Department for International Development (DFID) and the South Sudanese government, GESS has succeeded in providing government aid to elementary schools in anti-government areas as well as delivering UK AID donations. With successful cooperation with the government and foreign aid foundations, GESS is currently engaged in cash transfer activities at more than 3,400 schools.
Ways to use this resource effectively
I believe that radio programs and cash transfers are the most familiar and effective way to implement peace education for girls in a patriarchal society where awareness of education is low and early marriage is frequent. A more effective way for female students and citizens to use radio and cash transfer is for the government and educators to promote GESS and complement radio and cash transfer programs by using the following methods:
–Continuous partnership with non-profit organizations like GESS
In order to change the negative perception of female education, the central government and local governments should actively cooperate to implement policies on girls’ education. However, currently education policies in South Sudan are mainly focused on men. The quality of education in schools is also low due to frequent threats from militant groups and post-war trauma. In particular, girls living in rural areas are more isolated from education than any other class in South Sudan. Under these circumstances, it is difficult for the South Sudanese government alone to establish systematic female education policies. Therefore, the government should actively cooperate with non-profit organizations such as GESS to help female students attend school and increase the school graduation rate by directly paying cash to female students living in conflict or poverty areas. The current government is a partner with GESS, but it is time for the nation to establish a solid relationship with organizations that actively implement education programs nationwide.
–Regular education conference
There is a limitation in GESS’s radio program since students and parents who live in poor areas don’t have access to listen to the show. Therefore, educators should hold regular education conferences from region to region so that all classes can access the content covered by radio programs. Participants at the conference are students, parents, teachers, and government education officials. Teachers and education officials at elementary, middle and high schools should systematically explain the importance of education, especially for girls. The conference should also include an explanation of how the tuition used, school curriculum, and meal system in school. Education conferences must be held at least once a semester, and after the conference, educators and education officials must take question and answer sessions to communicate with citizens.
In South Sudan, where the education system has been disrupted by a long civil war, GESS provides information on education through the media and gradually change the perception of women’s education in a patriarchal society. GESS also helps to increase the education rate of girls in the poor and vulnerable class through financial support. Furthermore, cash transfer helps to manage the school facilities and improve the quality of education by delivering funds to schools. In other words, GESS’s media program and cash transfer especially fits well with elementary and secondary girls in South Sudan, who have low access to education.
Through these programs, female student will be able to vividly plan and build their own future that was unimaginable in the past. Education allows girls to move away from a patriarchal society, and take their own leading thoughts and actions. Therefore, these two resources, which help directly receive education, can be used to develop the power to enable marginalized women to lead change in the community and further within the country.
The two main stakeholders in this project are the South Sudanese government and educators. Through this article, they can undestand how female students receive education and what kinds of major educational activities being conducted in South Sudan. Through this information, they will be able to establish policies to help and improve GESS’s programs. Also, through the Peace Learner website, they can learn the types of peace education forms, which can be used as a role model for improving education in South Sudan.
You can share additional questions on this topic with your colleagues. Here are some questions I recommend…
1) How does sexism in South Sudan affect education?
2) What do you think is the most effective way to solve the education gap between boys and girls?
3) What is the most urgent issue to address in order to improve South Sudan’s low-quality education?
Photo resource: http://ssmogei.org/programmes/