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South Sudan education ministry: the truancy problem

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May 15, 2011 (ABYEI)- A senior official in the minister of education of the Government of South Sudan (GoSS) said on Sunday his ministry is encouraging parents and family members of school-going age children to dissuade them from truancy.

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School Girl, South Sudan (UNHCR)

"We have realised that student drop-out rates in secondary schools is much higher, and lower in primary schools across South Sudan. We call on parents to monitor school-going children.

"Some children do not report to school even if they were seen leaving home for school from their homes. They do not reach the school compound and classes. They end up somewhere playing with other children," explained Duot Ajang Dut.

Dut named eight states of south Sudan with high numbers of school-going age children not attending school. "States that have the highest school drop-out rates include Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, Lakes, Unity, Upper Nile, Jonglei, Eastern Equatoria, and some parts of Central Equatoria", said Dut in an interview with Sudan Tribune on Sunday.

He said according to the Basic Education Statistics report of 2009/10, released by the Ministry of Education recently, form two has the highest number of student drop-outs which stands at 9,627.

The report also indicates that the main reasons that prompt students to drop out of school is truancy (36.2%) followed by pregnancies (20.4%).

However, the report shows an improvement as drop-outs due to truancy in 2008 was at 68.7%, while drop-outs caused by pregnancies and early marriage for girls increased from 10.3% in 2008, to 20.4% the following year.

"School drop-outs are much higher among students in form two, three and four, but they are low in primary. The total number of school drop-outs in secondary Level stands at 6,000 while in primary level the figure is pegged at 35.

"The main cause of drop-outs in primary schools is truancy [76.8%] followed by other reasons [8.8%]. The trend in school dropping out is higher in standard five to seven pupils compared to other grades, the report indicates. The total number of drop-outs in primary schools due to pregnancies is 1,768."

When contacted to comment on the issue, the gender focal point official in the ministry of education, Mary Nyibol, said that studies conducted in some regions have revealed the major factors behind student drop-outs include cultural practices and early marriage.

She said that the studies in the five southern states of Lakes, Jonglei, Eastern Equatoria, Unity and Northern Bahr el Ghazal have revealed the fact that Central Equatoria State has the lowest rate of drop out followed by Western Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile, the official said.

She said that factors which have contributed to the low number of pregnancies in schools in Central Equatoria and Upper Nile include the commitment of parents to education. Also, she said there were fewer cases of separation or divorces in these families and despite all odds, families maintain their children.

She said that most of the school drop-outs in regions such as in the rural areas were due to family breakups.

’’Children can always capitalise on the separation of parents to get involved in sexual relations,’’ said Nyibol. She also expressed her belief that positive role models are key to overcoming the truancy problem. A common problem she encountered while conducting the survey was early marriage.

(ST)

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