Over the last one century, the Balanda women have been marginalized, ignored, and excluded from essential social services such as health, employment, and education. They have also bore the brunt of two destructive civil wars over the last fifty five years in theSudan. Despite all odds against them, these Balanda women continue to struggle on a daily basis to feed and care for their families often at the expense of their own personal aspirations.
According to 2009 Education Statistics for Southern Sudan released by the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MOEST) in February 2010, the total number of girls enrolled in primary schools over the last three years was:
- 21,297 in 2007
- 23,775 in 2008
- 20,065 in 2009
During this same period, the number of girls enrolled in secondary schools was:
- 804 in 2008
- 1,812 in 2009
respectively for the State of Western Bahr El Ghazal.8-9 It is important to note here that while the statistics for individual ethnic groups in the state is unavailable, the number of Balanda girls enrolled in primary and secondary schools is far smaller given that the Balanda people makes up eighty percent (80%) of the population of Western Bahr El Ghazal State. This data clearly indicates that girls drop out of schools in far greater number than boys as they progress from primary to secondary education.
It is clear from both historical and contemporary experiences that wide access to education for women remains an elusive and unfulfilled strategic goal for several reasons. Chief among these are low proportion of female teachers, teachers not being paid for several months or years, lack of resources, lack of teaching materials and textbooks, lack of strategic educational policies to enroll and retain more girls in school, and lack of permanent classroom teaching facilities.9
Bearing in mind that several generations of Balanda women across South Sudan have been struggling for over a century to gain access to basic education, our goals are:
- To provide equal access to superior quality primary education for both girls and boys in order to meet the United Nations (UN) Millennium Development Goal 2: “Achieve Universal Primary Education” by 2015. 10
- To guarantee enrollment at the new school is 50% females and 50% males annually in order to reduce gender disparities in access to education.
- To outline and develop strategies to deal with many social issues such as early marriage and pregnancy that many young girls face. The aim is to reduce drop- out rate and keep the girls in school.
- To launch a social campaign to sensitize and educate the community about the roles of women in the society. The aim is to reduce and eliminate social stigma and hurdles and put women on an equal footing with men.
- To ultimately build a private primary, intermediate, and secondary school for girls in the future. The aim is to create an educational learning environment that exclusively caters, promotes, and develops young girls into robust responsible citizens.