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Changing attitudes to education in South Sudan

Our school radio programme transforms the lives of children, especially girls and those living with disabilities - find out more!

On International Day of Education, read some of the stories of transformation that have come from the power of radio.

At 13, this young boy had never been to school. Abandoned by his mother when he was just three because of a physical impairment, he was being raised by his grandmother, who thought his disability meant he would be excluded from attending – as is common in small villages in South Sudan, where stigma around disability persists.

In 2020, a community mobilisation volunteer encouraged his family to listen to these radio programmes aimed at helping more children get an education in South Sudan.

An episode of Our School on disability inclusion made the young teen realise it was possible that he could go to school. But first, he had to persuade his grandmother.

After listening to the radio episode on disability inclusion, I was inspired to go to school. I talked to my grandmother for two days regarding my enrolment in school, but my grandmother was hesitant due to my physical impairment - and the challenges to reach school. She later accepted and I was enrolled in 2020 to Primary 1.”
— Student

Listening and discussing the school radio episodes as a family was key in helping to change his grandmother’s mindset about his physical disability, and helped the young teenager to persuade her to enrol him in school.

Before the programme was introduced to us… I thought that my grandson was unable to do anything in society including attending school due to the nature of his disability. My thinking was changed completely after listening to the disability inclusion episode and my grandson’s conviction to go to school. I enrolled him in 2020 and now he is in Class 3.”
— Student’s grandmother

Returning to school after early pregnancy

The ’Our School’ radio programme also helped Magdelena Nafisa, a 45-year-old mother of four, when her eldest daughter dropped out of primary school because she was pregnant. Magdalena has a physical impairment and uses a wheelchair, and already struggles to make ends meet. She wanted her daughter to return to school, but she was left feeling isolated and discriminated against by her family, who were opposed to the idea.

Magdelena Nafisa and young children on rug next to her wheelchair

A community mobilisation volunteer introduced the programme to her and her family. They listened and discussed episodes that focused on how pregnant and breastfeeding young mothers could return to school.

The programme empowered Magdelena to stand up for her daughter and to re-enroll her into primary school while she looked after her daughter’s baby. Her daughter is now studying in Yei Day Secondary school.

After I listened to Our School radio programme for two weeks, I regained some hope for my daughter to enroll her back into school. I immediately took a decision to remain at home with her child and let her continue with her education as she will be the only person to pull me out of poverty after attaining an education.”
— Magdelena Nafisa, mother of student

Other episodes about disability and education changed Magdelena’s beliefs around her own disability, and helped her to believe in herself and her own abilities.

I also listened to the programme on disability inclusion and this topic inspired me as a woman who is physically impaired. This topic has empowered and raised the voices of people with disabilities who have been at the periphery of decision-making, both at family and society levels, to speak up for their rights. It has personally empowered me.”
— Magdelena Nafisa, mother of student

The GESS programme receives funding through UK aid from the UK Government, the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the European Union (EU), the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) and Norway Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

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