Safe Back to School reduces early marriages, encourages school retention.
Girls playing in Bor Girls Primary School. Photo: Tito Justin/Save the Children
Local communities in Bor town have reported no case of early marriages between October and December 2021 following the intervention of the Safe Back to School project implemented by Save the Children. This was revealed during a community dialogue conference in Jonglei state capital in December, 2021.
Teachers, parents, chiefs, and other education stakeholders in Jonglei state reaffirmed their commitment to strengthen joint mechanisms to increase school enrolment, retention, and completion of school by children.
Under the ‘Safe Back to School’ (SB2S) project, Save the Children organized the third participatory community dialogue in Bor town between December 28 – December 30, 2021.
The forum provided an avenue for education stakeholders to share lessons and raise awareness on the importance of education, and issues that affect enrollment for school children. This is to ensure the school environment is safe for children to return and remain in class
A total of 789 females and 943 males participated in the three days’ community dialogue. The stakeholders represent the five primary schools within Bor town benefiting from the Safe Back to School Project 2021.
During the third round of dialogue, stakeholders focused on what they can do to continue to improve enrolment and get community commitment on school enrolment, retention, and completion.
This was a follow-up on the implementation of resolutions reached in the first and second rounds of dialogue over the last 3 months.
In the previous two conferences, the stakeholders had agreed – among other resolutions - to reduce home chores for all school girls. This was to encourage girls to study even at home.
They had also resolved to report any parent forcing their daughter[s] into early marriage, establish peer counseling service at the school, and develop local bylaws that will protect girls’ education. The bylaws will be enforced by the local chiefs.
Their assessment indicated that “there has been an increased commitment from parents to reduce workload for girls and push them to school – gradually increasing school enrolment over the last 3 months.”
The conference agreed that both women and men shall continue to influence decisions that seek to force girls into early marriages and stop them from going to school. The stakeholders also resolved to immediately report such cases to the chiefs and the relevant authorities.
Meanwhile, the forum noted - with gratitude - the financial contribution by parents to support teachers’ welfare. Each parent provides 3,000 South Sudanese Pounds monthly to improve quality teaching.
“Parents also complemented the provision of dignity kits by Save the children to increase school retention among girls during and after monthly menstruation,” said Mary Nyareech, deputy chair of Parent-Teachers Association, Bor Girls Primary School.
It was further disclosed during the meeting that two peer counseling programs have so far been initiated in two primary schools “to provide services to girls.”
To strengthen these gain, the community appealed to donors to fund initiatives of Save the Children that seek to encourage education and campaign against early and forced marriages in South Sudan.
The third community dialogue was attended by Area chiefs, the Parent-Teachers Association, Teachers, Headteachers, Payam officials, community elders, pupils, school graduates from different levels of education.
About Safe Back to School
Safe Back to School is funded by Pooled Fund to accelerate safe return of pupils to school, retention until completion after and beyond SB2S project. It also supports child protection, WASH rehabilitation campaigns and awareness initiatives.