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EES asked to introduce girls’ boarding schools to curb forced marriage

EES asked to introduce girls’ boarding schools to curb forced marriage
Schoolchildren present a song during the launch of return to school campaign in Kapoeta on Monday, April 24, 2023 | Credit | Clement Otto/Singaita FM

In an attempt to curb forced and early marriages in greater Kapoeta community, a government official has called for opening of girls’ boarding schools in the area.

“As the state government we are requesting the ministry of education to give one school for girls as boarding so that to stop the issue of force and early marriage in greater Kapoeta,” said Charles Lokene, advisor to Eastern Equatoria State governor on gender, child, and social welfare affairs.

The call came during back to school learning campaign in Kapoeta South County under the theme: “Education for household and community transformation.”

According to UNESCO South Sudan it has an adult literacy rate of 34.52%. While the male literacy rate is 40.26%, for females is 28.86%, showing a big gap between the sexes. Compared to the rest of countries the literacy rate in South Sudan is very low.

Early and forced marriage is common in South Sudan, where girls are traditionally seen as commodities to be married off to fetch a ‘bride price’ – a practice particularly prevalent in rural areas and within pastoral communities.

Those who manage to escape seek refuge at St. Bakitha Girls Boarding School in Narus – a church school considered safe place for survivors of early and forced marriages.

The school is a haven for many survivors of forced marriages, giving them an education, accommodation, and counselling to help them overcome their trauma.

Lokene said the only solution to reduce cases of early and force marriages in greater Kapoeta ministry of education should open one boarding for public school and should only be for girls.

“The government should have their own boarding school; that will be good solution to reduce the issues of forced marriage in greater Kapoeta,” he argued.

Besides, while child marriages affect both girls and boys, young females tend to bear the lion share of the brunt, reports show. By combating the practice, boarding schools are expected to reduce the alarmingly high rates of maternal mortality observed in the state.

Early marriage, according to health experts, make many premature mothers die from obstructed labor and other birth complications.

For his part, Kuyok Abol, undersecretary in the Ministry of Education and General Instructions, appealed to the communities in greater Kapoeta to send their children to school because the president has declared free education in every public school.