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Enterprising mother and daughter benefit from GESS cash transfer

Posted on 21 August 2019

Cash transfers are direct payments made to girls regularly attending school. The girls use the money to buy things they need for their lessons or support their family, helping to remove some of the barriers that prevent them from regularly attending school. In its first five years, GESS distributed cash transfers to 295,000 girls.

Nyayo is now in her fourth year at Loyola Secondary School in Wau, having received GESS cash transfers in 2016 and 2017. After she had spent some of the money on soap and sanitary towels for herself, Nyayo had a small amount left to invest into a bakery business for her mother, Marta.

Nyayo has seven siblings and had seen how much her mother struggled to scrape together enough money for all of their school fees. The small amount of money that Nyayo was able to give her mother, allowed her to bake and sell bread. With the profit from this, Marta was able to buy more flour and bake more bread, eventually earning enough to build a stand outside her house where she could also serve tea. “Before that I was not earning anything. When school opens, the profit that I have saved, I used to support the children.

Marta’s enterprising spirit has inspired Nyayo. “I am looking forward to finishing my examinations. I would actually invest the money. I can use the money to do some short courses. I could do computer course or some other small trainings that can help me. They say that ‘an idle mind is the devil’s workshop’, so these courses will keep me busy in the holidays.

Marta added, “I want to say that I have not been to school – I have only read little. Now I am struggling to send all of my children to school. I want to tell other children that they should not leave school. School is good. School is the future. I hope that all girls can go to school, study hard and leave with good jobs. I want them to be governors, to go abroad, to have big dreams, to be the President! When I was young, I had the plan of becoming a lawyer because I love politics. I love when women are being empowered and they’re in some top, top positions.

Although Marta was not able to fulfil her dream, she still wants to help to empower girls by telling everyone about the importance of giving their daughters an education. “I can also do something to support girl child education like GESS is doing here.

There are many barriers preventing girls from going to school in South Sudan, but GESS research shows that the financial barriers are the greatest, and that apparent social barriers often have a financial basis – in the case of early marriage, girls are seen as a source of wealth through a dowry. Cash transfers help to remove these financial barriers and GESS specifically targets girls in upper primary and secondary schools – those most at risk of dropping out.

GESS exceeds ambitious targets to support South Sudanese girls to stay in school

Posted on 20 August 2019

South Sudan has some of the worst educational indicators in the world, particularly for girls. Very few who begin primary education continue to secondary school. In 2017, 138,578 girls started primary school, but only 3,816 completed secondary school. The UK aid-funded Girls’ Education South Sudan programme (GESS) is determined to change this. It wants to help build a South Sudan where every single girl is able to go to school, stay in school and achieve in school.

There are many barriers preventing girls from going to school in South Sudan, but GESS research shows that the financial barriers are the greatest, and that apparent social barriers often have a financial basis – in the case of early marriage, girls are seen as a source of wealth through a dowry. Cash transfers help to remove these financial barriers and GESS specifically targets girls in upper primary and secondary schools – those most at risk of dropping out.

Girls like Devisa…

Sixteen-year-old Devisa is a student at Liberty Primary School. The school is located in the Bentiu Protection of Civilians site in the north of South Sudan, where more than 100,000 people are seeking protection as a result of the ongoing civil war. Devisa and her family fled to Bentiu when fighting broke out in her village. She told us that she has seen more girls enrol in school thanks to GESS cash transfers. Devisa herself played a part in this. After receiving her own cash transfer, she helped to spread the word, encouraging girls who had dropped out of school to come back and study hard so that they too would be eligible to receive the cash. She said that girls who previously did not want to come to school, or whose parents did not let them, are now regularly attending lessons.

Devisa is well aware of the barriers to education that girls face in her country. Sometimes a girl’s dowry may be her family’s only source of income and Devisa has seen some of her peers drop out of school as a result of forced marriage. Menstruation can also stop a girl from attending lessons regularly. A lack of money to buy sanitary towels means many are forced to stay at home during their period, falling behind their male classmates or missing important exams as a result.

Girls receive cash transfers when they regularly attend school and ongoing qualitative research carried out by GESS highlights that most girls make their own choices on how to spend the money, often using it to buy things that directly support their education. Last year, Devisa and her mother went to the local market to buy textbooks and pens with the money she received. This has helped her to do revision at home; after school she compares the notes she has taken in class with her textbook.

GESS cash transfers can help ease the financial pressure felt by South Sudanese families and the results speak for themselves. In 2019 school enrolment stands at 1.98 million pupils, 45.3% of them girls, both national records achieved in spite of mass displacement caused by the ongoing conflict.

Having seen for herself how GESS cash transfers have helped girls stay in school, Devisa is hopeful for the future of South Sudan. “It starts from the family. The children will be more happy and healthy, then the entire country will also be happy because educating a girl is like you’re educating the whole nation.”

Second phase of Girls' Education South Sudan programme launched

Posted on 20 August 2019

The Honourable Minister of General Education and Instruction (MoGEI), Deng Deng Hoc Yai, is delighted to announce the start of the second phase of the Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) programme. Funded by UK aid, the programme will deliver £70 million of aid over five years.

The Honourable Minister stated, “We must now continue the important work of GESS that provided critical support to the education sector. During the first phase, the programme reached almost two million citizens and helped to change the narrative of girls’ education in South Sudan. We thank the UK government for their continued support and pledge to work alongside UK aid to build on past success.”

The second phase of GESS will build on the achievements of the first, which reached over 3400 schools with cash grants, 295,000 girls with cash transfers and two million South Sudanese through radio broadcasts. This phase of the programme will see a larger emphasis on low secondary school enrolment rates, especially the drop-out and retention of girls, as well as a focus on ensuring that children with disabilities can access education.

Managed by Cambridge Education, the programme will also support the new curriculum by placing a heavy focus on the quality of education, and improving learning outcomes at both primary and secondary levels across the country. Alongside improvements to the quality of education, cash grants to schools will continue to allow school management bodies to identify and improve upon areas of greatest need.

Gary Preece the UK aid programme lead said, “We are proud to continue working alongside the Ministry of Education to continue this transformative package of support to the education sector. This is part of UK aid’s commitment to giving children the best possible start in life, especially hard-to-reach girls. Education has the force to empower marginalised girls and women to lead change within schools and their wider communities, playing a transformative role in post-conflict recovery. The UK is investing in South Sudan to ensure that a generation of children do not miss out on an education.”

Catherine Palmier, Head of Cooperation at the Embassy of Canada to South Sudan also expressed Canada’s support for the GESS programme, to which it will be contributing up to an additional Can$15 million over three years.