Equal Rights to Education
Agnes Odhiambo, a journalist for Human Rights Watch interviewed a young woman named Mary K. from South Sudan, who talked about her experience in school and her dreams for when she grew up. Mary K. was 16 at the time she was pulled out of school. She dreamed of being an accountant and continuing her education, but her father insisted she marry a 50 year old man who traded 60 cows for her hand in marriage. Mary begged her father to let her stay in school, but he refused to change his mind. “He said it is a waste of money to educate a girl and that girls are born so that people can eat. He also said that marriage, not education, will bring me respect in the community.”
The government of South Sudan has made education a top priority in there new development plan for 2015, and President Salva Kiir has made statements time and time again that education needs to be equal for both girls and boys. The 2008 Child Act and Transitional Constitution provides the right for free and compulsory primary education. The Child Act makes it so no girl can be expelled from school due to pregnancy and that young mothers must be allowed to continue their education.In 2011, 70,000 young women went to school under an Alternative Education System that provides education for young women whom become pregnant and for young mothers.
Even though South Sudan is trying their best to incorporate better education into their developement, it isn’t an easy task. There aren’t many certified teachers in South Sudan, and many children are deprived of education because of child marriages and low household income.What we recognize is that education is important for everyone and should be ubiquitous. Mary K’s father was wrong when he said women aren’t supposed to be educated. We should all listen to Mary’s words and help to develop a better system for all children to benefit from.
Published on October 10th, Photograph by un.org