Engaging children to advocate for their rights to education and protection

Monday 23 March 2020

Save the Children's social advocacy initiative unlocks protection barriers and keeps more children in school.Social advocacy team who spoke to us/Tito Justin

Aweil East, South Sudan - Boys and girls worry of forced marriage as it is considered an important way for their parents to access wealth via the traditional practice of transferring cattle, money, and other gifts through the payment of dowries. Girls’ unequal access to education is a consequence of prevalent socio-cultural perceptions that devalue girls’ education. These interlocking socio-cultural causes include educational attainment of parents, and parental perceptions about whether girls or boys are more worthy of investment in education given economic impediments on a family. Boys and girls are also exposed to different kind of abuses and violence. Save the Children through partners in Aweil engage boys and girls in social advocacy teams to create awareness on education and protection from abuses or violence.

Save the Children project in Aweil East is implemented through Action for Children Development Foundation (ACDF) to strengthen the capacity of the Civil Society Organizations that are operating in Aweil East. Through the partners, the project trains and empowers social advocacy teams to advocate for the enrolment of girls in school as well empowers children to demand accountability from the duty bearers.  There is also psychosocial support in child friendly spaces. Children are trained on how to protect themselves from abuses, as well how to create awareness for their parents so that their children have life resilience. In addition, Save the Children have some service providers in the community called community facilitators. The facilitators are trained on how to repair children who are having child protection concern. The initiative also supports parliamentarians or lawmakers such that whenever they make a budget, they should be able to reflect children rights in their planning. Here is what the children have to say;

Abuk*, 16: “My work is to let the boys and girls go to School because school [education] is very important to us, which is why I am talking about it. I am asking our fathers and mothers to send all their girls & boys to school because education is very important to us. Our brothers and sisters, leave staying in the market and come to school. “Market later, education now” because education is our life [future], come to school, school is important”

Joseph*, 17: “My friend is called Athian. He has been advising me on the goodness of going to School and get educated. Athian told me that it is where people can get job. Therefore I want to learn to get a job so that I can help my parents, relatives and even other people”

Marrie*, 15: “I am happy to be in the School and to have this opportunity to talk to my fellow girls who are also students.  And, to tell them that school is good, that is why I am in school. I want to tell my fellow girls who decide to abandon school and chose to be married to come back to School so that they can learn like me. Marriage at this level is nothing but Education is the important thing and thank you”

Save the Children empowers CSO partners to advocate for protection and empowerment of children and youth. The partners also support SAT members (girls and boys) to present petition to State Parliament. Children are also trained on social accountability to voice out their concerns to the government, local leaders and parents to protect them in school.

In 2018 – 2019, 42 duty parents including line ministries for children from health, education and also from social development, 700 children and their parents or caregivers were trained. In social accountability and advocacy, the project trained 84 in 2018 and 2019. The project trained law enforcement agencies; prisons and the police officers because they have the role to play in protecting children. 40 policemen and women were also trained on how they can respond to child abuse especially children who are living in market places with high risk of abuses. Thanks to DANIDA for the funds.