Education partners pledge to support over 900,000 girls

Education partners pledge to support over 900,000 girls

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has joined the United Kingdom and Canada to support 930,538 girls in Phase II of Girls’ Education in South Sudan (GESS).

The UK government, for about five years, has been supporting girlchild education through the program known as ‘Girls’ Education-South Sudan’ where schoolgirls are provided with cash to meet their requirements.

Phase II aims to reach 930,538 girls. More than 5,000 schools are targeted to benefit from the program.

In a joint press release on Wednesday, USAID, the UK and Canada promised to continue supporting basic education in South Sudan through a new agreement on Phase II of Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS).

The statement read in part, “Building on the accomplishments of over eight years of GESS, this expanded partnership seeks to improve the life chances of a generation of South Sudanese, with a focus on girls and marginalised children and youth,”

 “GESS places a particular emphasis on girls, children with disabilities, and essential support to the education sector in South Sudan. The activity ensures the provision of equitable, accessible, and quality education. “

USAID South Sudan Mission Director Haven Cruz-Hubbard said USAID will continue to recognise the importance of investing in basic education in the country.

“Children and youth can realise their potential and South Sudan’s youngest generation will be equipped to carry this young nation forward, ” he said.

“That is why we are joining the United Kingdom and Canada in expanding Girls’ Education in South Sudan, which has a proven track record of accomplishments.”

The statement said in its first phase, GESS reached 295,000 girls with cash assistance, more than 3,400 schools with cash grants, and two million South Sudanese through radio broadcasts. 

More to be included              

This phase aims to reach 930,538 girls. More than 5,000 schools are targeted to benefit from the program.

According to the organization, over 70 per cent of primary-aged children in South Sudan are not attending school, the highest proportion in the world.

They said although schools reopened in May 2021, there are still challenges in complying with standard operating procedures to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“Cases of girls dropping out of school because of pregnancy or forced marriage have increased in parts of the country due to the long period of school closures.” 

“The rate is even higher among South Sudanese girls of school-going age; 76 per cent.  The COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated education challenges when schools closed for 14 months beginning in March 2020,” the statement read.

The initiative works nationwide in South Sudan. 

USAID promised to continue supporting non-government schools in the 13 counties across the country.

The counties include Kapoeta North and Budi counties in Eastern Equatoria State, Akobo, Duk, Pibor, and Uror counties in Jonglei State, Leer, Mayendit, and Panyijar counties in Unity State, Baliet and Ulang counties in Upper Nile State; Jur River and Wau counties in Western Bahr-el Ghazal.

“These 13 counties are among the poorest, most isolated, and least assisted areas in South Sudan. By focusing on multi-layered assistance in these severely underdeveloped counties, USAID seeks to build community and household resilience to help communities better withstand shocks including floods and conflict.”