January 10, 2012 (RUMBEK) - Of nearly 2,000 pupils taking their final primary school exams in Rumbek the capital of Lakes State this week, only 16% are female according to the Director of Examinations in the state ministry of education Marial Manesa Makoi.
- Rumbek National Secondary School students celebrating the reopening of the school after it was closed for 5 months. Jan. 9, 2012 (ST)
Makoi told Sudan Tribune on Monday that the overall the number of students sitting for the exams had increased from the previous year. He cautioned the state government to provide more secondary school places to ensure that all students were able to continue their education.
South Sudan announced in June 2011 that 73% of Southern Sudanese were literate but said that this had reduced in the six years since South Sudan signed a peace deal with north Sudan in 2005. In July 2011, as part of the peace deal, South Sudan became independent.
This year, of 1,903 students sitting the exams in Rumbek, only 301 (16%) were girls, an example of why significantly less women can read and write in the world’s newest but severely underdeveloped country.
However, schools conducting the exams have increased from 35 to 45 this year. Next year the state ministry of education hopes that 78 schools will conduct the exams, allowing more students to advance to secondary school.
Makoi said that the government needed to act now in order for be ready for an increase in students at all levels. He cautioned pupils to adopt good behaviour, display discipline, respect to invigilators and avoid cheating in examinations.
Jackline Nyakada, 28, speaking after finishing her Christian Religious Education, paper told Sudan Tribune she was very proud to take the exams, despite how difficult they were.
Nyakada had dropped out of the school but her husband allowed her to join Adult School in Rumbek. Like many other women in South Sudan she was forceed to leave school when she got married.
She said that despite a large family and an abundance of housework she is determined to continue her secondary school education. She thanked her husband for giving her permission to go back to school and finish her education.
Nyakada urged other women in Lakes State to continue their education at adult schools and overcome their fear that they are too old to go back to education.
Having an education, Nyakada said, would give her a chance to improve the life of her family by giving her a chance of finding a job so that she could generate more income for the household.
Girls are used by many families to bring in bridal wealth and so a married early. In many parts of South Sudan it is acceptable for a girl to marry as soon as she has become menstruating meaning that many never finish school.
Johnson Majok Lueth, the chief invigilator at Rumbek Girl Primary school, affirmed that examinations will take place every day this week, concluding on Friday.
The Lakes State government deployed riot police and took control of 10 examination centers it has been reported. It is believed that this is to monitor the exams and ensure no riots take place.