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2022 – South Sudan

Breaking barriers: Girls’ and young women’s leadership and learning in South Sudan

Partner: War Child Canada

Background

South Sudan is still coping with the immediate and long-term consequences of a protracted civil conflict. There are significant challenges that inhibit access to education, especially for girls and young mothers, despite many considerable investments in education in Malakal County. In addition, girls and young women have been disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The rates of school dropout, early marriage and pregnancy have risen, and there is an increased incidence of gender-based violence.

Project objectives

Our project with War Child Canada (WCC) will address key educational, social, and financial barriers facing adolescent girls and young women to accessing responsive education services in Malakal County.

It will directly target 800 girls: 50% out-of-school mothers and 50% adolescent girls, with a focus on engaging children with disabilities. To minimize the risk of tension, the project will split the beneficiaries equally between the host and IDP (Internally Displaced People) communities. A Mobile Learning Lab (MLL), including a solar panel, will be installed in each of the four ALP (Accelerated Learning Program) centres in both Malakal Town and Malakal’s PoC (UN’s Protection of Civilians) site.

Lessons learned from previous and ongoing education projects in Malakal County attest to the fact that to achieve the most significant impact for girls and young women in education, they must be active participants in project planning and implementation processes. This will be done by enhancing access to educational opportunities, as well as by imparting skills and knowledge through mentoring and leadership development.

The main goals of the program are to increase:

  1. Support and promotion of girls’ education among parents, community members, and girls themselves;
  2. Access to learning opportunities for out-of-school girls and young mothers in targeted locations; and,
  3. Involvement of women and girls in decision-making regarding education opportunities in their communities.

Female-driven education campaigns using radio and community theatre will educate women, girls, men and boys on the importance of girls’ education, women’s rights and children’s rights. In addition, the project will address a long-standing barrier caused by the challenge of providing teachers’ incentives. A phone-charging kiosk will be established in each of the four learning centres. These charging kiosks will use the MLL’s solar power and generate income that will avoid charging the girls higher school fees.

Eight librarians will be trained on how to operate the MLLs, use the solar chargers, and facilitate self-directed learning activities. Material will be drawn from a variety of online resources specifically designed to promote girls’ empowerment. Learners will be paired up, sharing one tablet between each pair. To allow out-of-school mothers to attend classes, community volunteers will provide childcare for the participants. In addition, after-school MLL classes will be offered to 400 out-of-school girls.

Members of the education groups will be invited to participate in training to build their leadership, organizational, and management skills. These skills will be used in implementation of the groups’ action plans, in forum discussions and in community dialogues. Community participation coupled with the self-financing strategy will not only promote the sustainability of the project, but will also ensure that the education of female youth is not being carried out in isolation, but in collaboration with the entire community and reinforced through their support.

Why partner with War Child Canada?

War Child Canada has implemented education and peacebuilding programming in South Sudan since 2012. In 2019, 60 million girls funded a project in Malakal County that improved access to quality education. This new project will build on that previous project and the strong interest by the government to continue the use of the MLLs. In addition, WCC is launching a 5-year education project, funded by Global Affairs Canada, which will complement the interventions in our project. WCC’s programming directly empowers both individuals and communities by strengthening capacity and supporting communities through every stage of the project.