ECW support encourages expectant young mothers continue with Alternative Learning Programme (ALP)
Save the Children, Norwegian Refugee Council & Finn Church Aid, as ECW lead grant agents, enable partners -Nile Hope Consortium to promote literacy and keep young mothers in schools.
Ager Monyakoch [Left] and other expectant young mothers pose for a photo after receiving baby kits from ECW implementing partner, Nile Hope Consortium
Backstory: Ager Monyakoch Ayang is a 29-year-old pupil and mother of one. She is currently pregnant for her second child. Every afternoon she leaves her 2-year-old child with her cousin so that she can attend lessons. The lessons last for 2 hours.
Ager has enrolled at the Alternative Learning Programme in Majak ALP center in Baliet County of Upper Nile state. She joined Level 1 class after the “Back to Learning” campaign was initiated in December 2021 by the Food for the Hungry (FH) organization under Nile Hope Consortium. The young mother is looking forward to the coming of her new baby in the next 3 months. However, of late, the expectations for a newborn have been heavy on her mind. Ager has bee anxious.
“I don’t have plans to buy items for the baby because even my husband doesn’t have anything to put on the table or to procure materials for the baby,” she said:
The situation is threatening to force Ager to quit studies and look for alternative means to raise money for her child. This could deprive her of access and the opportunity to remain and complete her ALP - which has the potential of improving her education outcomes.
The South Sudan Humanitarian Needs Overview shows that food insecurity, folds, violence, and conflicts significantly affect regular attendance to and retention at school, among other needs and demand barriers. A 2021 draft findings, among others, indicated that the least likely group of children to participate in education are; Young mothers like Ager, children without a parent or guardian, Child-headed households, Learners with disabilities, Married learners, and Pastoralists children. County officials, education leaders, and community members attribute the reasons for school dropouts particularly among girls to marriage, pregnancy, domestic duties, and lack of food and school fees.
Programme Activities: On January 28, 2022, Ager Monyakoch was among 42 young mothers who received baby care kits in her area through funding from the Education Cannot Wait project. Food for the Hungry under Nile Hope Consortium identified and registered school-aged lactating mothers who are regularly attending classes, including those who dropped out of school because of pregnancy. It also directed the support to school-going single mothers.
Ager Monyakoch received her baby kit ahead of labor
Ager Monyakoch who was overjoyed to receive the baby kits said she was not expecting such assistance from anyone. Each kit given to Ager and other young mothers includes; 2 cotton T-shirts, 2 gowns/sleepers, 2 receiving blankets, 4 cloth diapers, 1 hooded jacket, 2 pairs of socks, two diaper pins, one hand towel and 2 bars of soaps.
Change: In addition to benefiting from the baby care kits, Achol and her peers were given orientation on how to use the baby care kits.
“These items will now help ease my mind, and help me concentrate on me studies while I wait for the arrival of my baby. I’m thankful to Education Cannot Wait and the partners for this unexpected help,” Ager stated.
Since recieving the items, Ager has not missed a day in class. She said the assistance has contributed positively to her performance in class.
"I pay more attention to lessons and do my best to improve my reading and writing skills," she said.
Young expectant mothers supported by Nile Hope Consortium member, Food fo the Hungry with funds from ECW, managed by Save the Children and partners.
The objective of the baby care kits is to ensure the school-going “young mothers are relieved from the financial burden that comes with the baby and to help them attend classes on regular basis.”
Education Cannot Wait is the first global multilateral fund dedicated to education in emergencies and protracted crises. Through the South Sudan Multi-Year Resilience Programme (MYRP), ECW project aims at ensuring that out-of-school children (OOSC) in priority areas have flexible, responsive routes into learning opportunities, that support their transition into further levels of education and that support their holistic wellbeing and development.
Save the Children International, Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) and Finn Church Aid (FCA) as grantee agencies work together with 17 Implementing Partners across 6 States in South Sudan – under the leadership of the Ministry of General Education and Instruction. Partners like Nile Hope Consortium focuses on increased access to learning opportunities, improved quality and continuity of education, enhanced school safety, mental health, psycho-social support, gender and inclusive education.
Story by Daniel Danis/Save the Children
Contributor: Food for the Hungry through Nile Hope Consortium