Cash transfers increase girls’attendance:report
By Jale Richard
Pupils of CMS primary school
When NaomiNyamthiec lost her dad in 2004 and her mum got paralyzed in 2010, she had lost hope of continuing with education. But now, Nyamthiecis in her final year of primary education, thanks partly to an annual cash transfer that supported her to remain in school.
UK Aid and South Sudan’s government funds girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS). GESS has a program that gives 2,300 SSP in cash to eligible girls from P5 to senior 4 to keep them in school.
An independent report on the impacts of GESS on girls’ education indicates a 17% increase in school attendance when the cash transfer was given. It also found enrolment of girls increased. The report will be released next week in the UK.
“Those of us who do not have fathers, the money helped us a lot,” Nyamthiec said. “We can buy school uniforms, sanitary pads and pay part of the school fees. My mum struggled to keep us in school before the introduction of the money, but now with the GESS money, she can afford to buy scholastic materials.”
She said her mother encourages her to keep the money and use it for scholastic materials.
“I learnt that the girls get some money so I remained until the end of the year,” she said.“I am now getting the money which I use to pay my school fees and school requirements.”
Michael LopukeLotyam, the Undersecretary Ministry of General Education and instruction, said the GESS program helped increase enrolment, retention and completion to over 40% which is encouraging.
“We hope that this program will continue creating more opportunities for the girl child in South Sudan; and to bridge the gap existing between women and men in South Sudan. We believe that educating a girl is the best way to lifting families and communities out of poverty,” Lopuke said.
For Mary Akwach, 16 years in primary eight, said she shared her money with her elder sister who had dropped out of school and has a baby.
“There are small things you can buy like school shoes and socks that support girls in education. In future when they increase the money it will help a lot of girls stay in school,” she said. “Sometimes your parents cannot afford scholastic materials and you can use the money for buying them.”
But Viola Juan, a P8 pupil said her parents took away half of the money and she didn’t get it back. “When I reached home, they said have you received the money? I said yesthen they said bring it here. They took half of my money.”
She said if the money is hers alone, it is enough but since her parents also need it, it is not enough. She said when she asked for the money, her parents told her they used the money to buy food. “It is my money but you don’t have a choice at home.”
She said at home as a child, you do not have a choice but rather comply with what your parents say.
She appeals to the government to improve the economy, security and stop war so that she can finish her education.
In the past some teachers were implicated in swindling the cash from the girls an issue attributed to low salaries of the teachers when the girls get money.
Akuja de Garang the Team Leader GESS said up to 88 cases of irregularities have been recorded, but only 29 are not yet resolved. “In terms of imprisonment, I have no idea but the cases are being resolved locally,” she said.
Undersecretary Lopuke said those who swindle the girls’ money are doing a criminal act. “The money should not in any way come back to the school, not for development of the school or for registration of the pupils in school. This money is only for the needs of the school girls.”
Lopuke said his Ministry is transferring 60% of the capitation grant, which is another grant GESS gives out that goes directly to the schools and is partly based on how many students they have, to schools for the teachers as allowances.
“This is a better solution than seeing teachers having no money while the girls are getting money,” he said.
Florence Henry, the head teacher of Church Missionary Society Primary School, said even though teachers are given the 60% of the capitation grant as allowances, it is not enough compared to what the girls get.
She also said more awareness should be carried out to the parents so that they get to understand the reasons for giving the money to the girls.