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Tackling girls' issues through the airwaves in South Sudan

A pupil taking part in a radio show sponsored by Plan in South Sudan.

7 August 2012: Youths in Yei River County, South Sudan, are using the country's airwaves to help tackle abuse and other social challenges, which are forcing girls in the world’s newest nation to quit school prematurely.

Speaking out through a Plan-sponsored radio talk show, the youths are raising awareness on a range of issues affecting girls' education - including abuse by teachers, early marriage and problems with menstruation.

"Some teachers in some schools mistreat girls. This means they learn with great fear, and it even forces some of them to drop out of school,” said Israel Kenya, a 17-year-old talk show participant.

Education status

There are in excess of 1.3 million primary school age children out of school in South Sudan, which stands second-to-bottom in the world ranking for net enrolment in primary education—and bottom of the world league table for enrolment in secondary education, according to a recent report by UNESCO.

The report says young girls in South Sudan face extreme disadvantages in education - girls are less likely to enter school, more likely to drop out, and a young girl in South Sudan is 3 times more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than to reach grade 8.

Changing attitudes

“I am advising all parents to attend academic requirements of their children, especially their daughters, and to also erase from their minds the negative attitudes they have towards the education of girls,” said Lillian Mike, a 15-year-old grade 7 pupil.

Lillian spoke during a radio show that drew hundreds of listeners from Yei River County and its adjoining counties of Lainya and Jubahad. She said the lack of sanitary pads is also forcing girls out of school.

“So many girls are discouraged from studying, especially when they begin their menstruation periods. When the boys see their uniforms messed with blood, they mock them and out of shame, some girls end up going back home with little or no hope of coming back to school." 

Domestic chores

She continued: “Most of our parents look at girls as a source of income. This perception demoralises them from studying and therefore affecting their education. In addition, girls are given too much work to do at home which makes it hard for them to concentrate in classes and by the time they finish their domestic chores, they are tired and end up not studying or doing their homework.”

Susan Phillip, County Girl-child Education Supervisor for Yei River, said: "In Yei River County, the education of girl-child is affected by political, social and economic factors which therefore need a joined effort in addressing these factors. We are happy that Plan is supporting us in addressing these issues through the media.”

The Plan-sponsored radio talk show is broadcast twice a month.

Read more about Plan's work in South Sudan

Learn about Plan's global child and youth participation work