Numbers of girls enrolled in primary schools in Wau town of Western Bahr el Ghazal state are increasing as the World Food Program works to provide girls with food ration; to encourage them to attend their classes. Teachers in schools say the food ration have help girls improve their academic standard since April 2014. I was able to pay a visit to some schools in Wau town and speak to some girls and their teachers on how is the food ratio helping them improve their academic performance. Authorities in the Ministry of Education in the town are saying many girls do dropout from school for mainly poverty, early marriage and pregnancy.
16 years Gisma Kuma Ben dropped her education last year because she got pregnant in her primary 6. She is now a mother of 6months baby boy and she is wondering what to do after this stage. According to Kuma, she is willing to continue her education but the challenge of who to pay the school fees remain an obstacle. Kuma says “I wanted to go back to school but there is no one at the moment would pay my school fees since I lost my dad and my mum is not employed to support me”
according to Hussien Mohammed the government education official says the issue of food ratio was initiated in schools last year to keep girls in schools so they can continue their studies.
13 year Adhel William Deng, is doing here primary 7 in Mayo Primary school in Wau. She says she has seen economical changes within her family when she started bringing food home. She says “The Sorghum and Oil that we received help us a lot. for example we take oil home and we use it to cook different menus. while Sorghum we take it to grinding machine and the flour is also used in different forms. This way it reduces our food expenses. We really thank the WFP because by helping us they are in directly; helping our parents“.
The World Food Program have been offering 500 sucks of sorghum and 20,000 liters of oil to more than 5000 girls in 5 girls schools in Wau Municipality since April 2014.
Teresina Mariano Achor is the head mistress of Wau (A) primary school for girls in Wau. She says this year has seen less issue of dropout due to good attendance of girls in their classes. Mariano says for a girl to qualify to get the 10KG of sorghum and 4 liters of oil monthly, she must attend all the classes during that month. Mrs. Mariano added ” In our school number of dropout have reduce more specially in junior classes in the past girls will just stay home without coming to school. Now the percentage of the attendance is high compare to the past unless someone is sick. that is why I can see a little bit of improvement in the academic performance”.
However, parents have appreciated the World Food Program for helping their girls stay in school. Pina Paul a mother of 6 children says the food is so helpful. she says poverty is making it difficult to some families not to allow their girls to go to school. Mrs. Paul explained: ” This food has played a great role among the poor communities because people are not all the same and some their situation is bad so I see this food have encourage parents to send their daughters to schools. Some families don’t afford to pay the school fees for girls but now if they see other girls are bringing food to their home from the school; this will encourage parents to send their daughters to school”
South Sudan is one of poor countries that has the high rate of the girls dropout due to the poverty among communities and issue related to early pregnancy and force marriage.