Ministry seeks funds for victims of early marriages

Ministry seeks funds for victims of early marriages
The Director-General in the Ministry of General Education and Instruction, Esther Akumu Adire (photo credit: courtesy)

The national Ministry of General Education and Instruction has raised concerns over the lack of funds to protect schoolgirls who run away from early marriage.

According to the ministry, most young girls who escape from marriage after returning to school have no home to live in.

Esther Akumu Adire, Director General in the Ministry of Education, said the majority of those girls escape from their parents’ and husbands’ homes and report back to the government either through the national or state ministries of education.

“We don’t have facilities as a government where [we] are unable to accommodate such marginalised girls and they are afraid of being given out by their parents,” Akumu said.

She was speaking during the stakeholders’ meeting addressing gender-based violence organised by Oxfam yesterday.

”Several girls have decided to come back to school. Others run away from the marriage, getting back to school, and sometimes we use boarding schools to accommodate these girls because we don’t have a special centre for them, and these girls refuse to go back to their parents’ homes in fear of being forced again into marriage,” Akumu stressed.

She revealed that the ministry of general education and partners are working hard to ensure that those girls return to school to complete their studies.

Akumu revealed that the government is working on a document called “Entry Policy” to allow all the girls to go back to school.

Uganda, Kenya, and other East African countries have already developed the policy that is being implemented.

She appealed to the government and development partners to save young girls, saying the majority are in Pibor Administration Area, Juba, Rumbek and Torit.

“The ministry of general education is trying to lobby to rescue the situation of these girls by talking to the county officials to identify them so that they can be transferred to other boarding schools,” Akumu said.

On her part, the Executive Director for the Young Women Christian Association [YWCA], Modi Enosa Mbaraza, said many girls across the country face many challenges with cultural practices.

She said they are working hard to make sure that young women can move forward to start talking about their rights so that they can stand firmly.

 “Girls are being forced into marriages without their knowledge and they are being tortured at their husband’s homes especially those who are not giving birth,” Ms Enosa said.

“It’s time for us to stand up for the protection of these young girls. We need to look at the area of formulating the policy. Let us also try to look at the judiciary, ” she added. 

A week ago, Deputy Governor of Central Equatoria State, Sarah Nene Redento, urged all parents to embrace gender parity in education.

She advised parents not to neglect their daughters’ education. She called for the eradication of early and forced marriages to stop setbacks to girls’ education.

Redento’s plea comes at a time when the country grapples with the disturbing numbers of documented cases of child marriages that lead to school dropouts.