Why is a Water Charity Running a Program Educating Girls in South Sudan?
In sub-Saharan Africa, there are many challenges around educating girls. But when it comes to educating girls in South Sudan, the challenges are even greater. The country has been in some sort of war or conflict for decades and is one of the poorest in the world. Many are living in refugee camps. And most families find it difficult to provide even the basic necessities like food for their families.
Even if a girl does make it to secondary school, the odds are stacked against her actually completing all four years.
From the time a female child is born, there is an understanding that she will be married off for a dowry when she comes of age. And that is often at adolescence. Though it’s technically illegal to marry an underage girl, it is the norm that is practiced throughout the country.
Since it’s understood that after she is married, she will become the property and responsibility of her husband, it’s often perceived as a bad investment to spend money on educating girls. With this level of poverty, if given the opportunity, parents will most often support their male children first.
Most South Sudanese girls will have little say in their marriage. And with South Sudan being a polygamist country, girls are often promised to wealthy older men who already have wives.
Our Education Program
Drop in the Bucket’s education program offers girls the opportunity to attend good boarding schools where they are able to focus on their studies without the distractions of domestic duties and other struggles. We are generally supporting between 125 and 150 students who are enrolled at schools in Uganda and South Sudan. If a girl qualifies academically, we enroll her in a Uganda school, where the school system is more stable, with qualified female teachers and boarding facilities. For those who do not score high enough to be accepted in Uganda schools, we have opened the DROP dorm which provides boarding for the girls who are enrolled in day school in South Sudan.
Although the main goal of the program is to provide the girls with a structured environment where they receive an education, it also buys them four more years to mature and grow up while they delay marriage a little longer.
The program provides more than just tuition. We also ensure that the students have scholastic materials, personal items, academic coaching, food, accommodations, support structure, security and medical treatment.
For the graduation, a group of donors raised funds for a graduation gift of new traditional dresses, hand bags, and watches. The girls Zoomed with donors, which was so exciting and new for us all. It was a wonderful day of celebrating their great accomplishment. Community members also attended the graduation party and some gave motivational speeches about how proud they were of the girls and their great accomplishment.
To quote Kofi Annan:
“An educated girl is more likely to delay marriage and childbirth, enjoy greater income and productivity, and raise fewer, healthier and better-educated children. Indeed, investments in girls’ education have proven to go further than any other spending in global development.”
– Kofi Annan – Former Secretary General of the United Nations.
So to answer the question “Why is a water charity running a program educating girls in South Sudan?” The answer is – water, sanitation, gender equality and education promote lasting change.