What is the future for South Sudan's schoolgirls?
By Noah Issa Philip, Juba
Both the South Sudanese government and NGOs have reported that the numbers of school age girls becoming pregnant during the COVID-19 pandemic has been increasing day and night. Torit state alone has seen over 400 young pregnancies. From this, it is clear that the rate of these pregnancies will increase if good modalities are not put in place to stop them.
These young girls, currently spoiled by our businessmen, boda-boda guys and their fellow age mates, are the future of the country. When you educate a girl, you educate the nation. However, when you educate a boy, you educate an individual. Therefore, we must protect our girls and give them books and pens instead of allocating them husbands. A good father will look at the future at his daughter’s future, not the wealth he would get from her dowry.
The South Sudanese government needs to tighten up enforce the law against those crooks who seek to corrupt our schoolgirls. One of the Chiefs in Juba recently said that ‘In my community, early marriage is forbidden. If anyone forces a young girl into marriage, I report them to the police’. If law enforcement officials receive such information and deal with it seriously, our girls’ futures will be brighter. If this is not the case, the future of our schoolgirls will be blank.
South Sudan currently lacks female leaders. As a result, it must be the responsibility of parents to protect their daughters and give them access to education, not just make wealth out of her dowry.
To our girls, I say please follow your dreams to the fullest leave aside the worldly life. You will come back to it after finishing your studies. For those who have already tried the bitterness of life, please tell your sisters that there is no true end and the world will send you to the grave. Enjoyment of life when you are educated is sweeter even than the the natural honey we enjoy during harvest time.
The Ministry of Education recently circulated a letter decreeing that P8 and S4 will resume on. Monday 5th October 2020.The rest of the classes will resume on Monday 5th April 2021. This is naturally because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yet, we must encourage our girls and boys to keep reading their books as they wait for the next academic year to begin in April 2021.
We should avoid giving the freedom to our school children to go to dance halls, bars, video halls, and clubs. It is here that most of our girls and boys are exposed to the world. Equally, those parents sending their school age daughters to do restaurant work must stop. Not all people who go to restaurants are hungry, they might have a very different aim leading them there.
By Noah Issa Philip
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