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Right to choose project empowers communities

Esther and Joy are both child mothers who have returned to primary school
Esther and Joy are both child mothers who have returned to primary school.

Plan International South Sudan is committed to ensuring that all girls in our programme areas receive a quality education. The Right to Choose project was launched in 2012  with the main goal of  increasing the number of girls having access to education and limiting the number of girls being subjected to premature marriages, as well as supporting married young girls to stay in school.

At 17, Esther should be in her first year in secondary school, but 3 years ago she had to leave school to give birth and nurse a child. Today, she finds herself in Primary Six with 13-year old classmates.

"It was difficult, I was worried that my friends would make fun of me in class,” Esther explains. Her son, now aged 3, lives with her mother in another state.  

"Contrary to my previous fear, my classmates are supportive, they encourage and advise me to focus on my education and avoid getting myself in a similar situation again,” Esther said.  "They even invited me to participate in the right to choose club where we share stories, experiences, know our rights and influence management to ensure that children’s rights are protected and promoted.”

With all this support, Esther is ready to focus and take her education further, as she aspires to be an accountant.

“I have to pursue my career because that’s the only way, I can take care of my child and also support my parents and at least make them proud,” she said.

According to Racheal Kemisa, the school matron, pregnancy along with early marriage, poverty and preferential treatment for boys is a major factor in the higher dropout rate of girls in her school.

Plan International Sudan’s work enables children to understand their rights and  work towards changing societal behaviors that stop them progressing in school. It also enables parents to be better positioned to support their children achieve a good education at all times. Because of support from parents, child mothers like Esther are able to pursue their education.