By Bonifacio Taban Kuich March 9, 2013 (BENTIU) – An official in South Sudan Unity state has decried the high rate of school dropout among girls; saying early marriage is a setback in efforts to implement the girl-child education policy.
South Sudan VP Riek Machar joins a group of women to cut a cake at Women Day celebrations in Juba (splmtoday)
Speaking at an occasion to mark International Women’s Day on Friday, Michael Chiengjiek Geay, the state deputy governor said forceful marriage, a common practice in most communities, deny girls access to education.
“The old practice which is uneasy for dropouts is forcing young girls into marriage, thus denying them access to education. The worse part of it all is that some parents push their daughters into forceful marriage for wealth,” he said.
Geay, also Unity State’s Minister for Local Government and Law Enforcement, urged citizens and stakeholders to join the campaign against forceful marriages in communities, reiterating the will of state authorities to fight the practice.
South Sudan, which attained independence barely two year ago, has one of the highest illiteracy rates in the world. According to last year’s Household Survey for South Sudan, less than one third of all South Sudanese aged 15 or older can read and write, with literacy rates among females at just 19%.
However, although girls’ education has reportedly improved since the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, these figures show that much work still lie ahead. For instance, the social-cultural practices deeply rooted in most communities are widely seen as a setback to girls’ access to education.
In South Sudan, statistic show, girls continue to be marginalised and denied access to education, with only 37.1% of eligible girls enrolled in primary school and just 1.3% enrolled in secondary level education.
Hilde Johnson, the Special Representative to the Secretary General (SRSG) in South Sudan, insist the full participation and empowerment of women in society is necessary, if the young nation is to achieve development and sustainable peace.
“Child marriage remains a deterrent to education; it affects thousands of girls and young women, depriving them of the ability to achieve their full potential and to fully contribute to the building of this new nation,” said Johnson, also head of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).
Meanwhile, the state Minister of Gender and Child Welfare said plans are underway to put in place a policy that will make forceful marriages unlawful in society.
“The issue of earlier marriage and forceful marriage has been a big problem particularly on underage girls. This is really a challenge for girls who wish to continue [with] their studies in schools,” said Lubna Abdelgani.
The minister, while speaking at the women’s day event, also appealed to lawmakers in the state legislative assembly to enact a law that will counter the traditional norms and practices of forceful marriages.
South Sudan Parliament, last year, passed the General Education Act, with a section of advocating for the need to protect the girl child, from sexual harm, gender-based violence and early marriages.
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10 March 08:01, by George Bol
Haaa, Larke ngu gaar nya tuideang. Riek( SPLM-DC) Vs Angelina(independent) against mighty SPLM.
Well...well the gentelman is begining his campagin for the next election. He should take care of the "super-race" gang! He is their number ONE enemy and they would liquidate him , if they could!He is the the end of their dream & hegemoney!
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