The Challenge - Educating girls in South Sudan

Female children in South Sudan face extreme adversity in the pursuit of academic success

Even a basic education is a right denied to many. Young girls and especially young women are less likely to enroll and more likely to drop out.

Despite these challenges, they are the backbone of the society: they cook, clean, care for younger children, get water, do the laundry, take care of family gardens, and collect the firewood.

Students in Loreto Rumbek
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South Sudan - the reality

In 2017, South Sudan was ranked as the world’s most difficult nations for girls to receive an education.


Only 37% of girls will enroll in an educational program


Just 2% of girls will go on to enroll in Secondary School


52% of girls are married before the age of 18
  • Only 37% of girls will ever enroll in an educational program; only 7% will graduate from Primary School.
  • Only 2% of girls will enroll in Secondary School.
  • Cumulative dropout rate of 71% in our region in 2015; over 63% in Senior 3 alone.
  • Average dropout year is Primary 4; half of the girls in school will drop out at this level.
  • 52% of girls are married before the age of 18; 17% before turning 15.
  • 90% of women in South Sudan are functionally illiterate.
  • Only 76% of girls that take the National Secondary School Certificate exam will pass with a score above 50%.
  • Only 6.3% of teachers in this area are female.
  • Only 57% of secondary school teachers in the area are trained/certified.
  • Student to text book ratio is 8.4 students per textbook.
  • Only 56% of schools have access to drinking water.
  • 31% do not have access to latrines or other sanitation facilities at schools.
  • Only 19% of schools have access to a power supply.
  • Over 95% of schools lack access to health care facilities.

The Loreto Difference

The young girls in our program – both the Loreto Primary School and the Loreto Girls Secondary School – receive support through meals, access to water, healthcare, security, and social programs to help engage them, and the community, so that they can receive a high-quality and relevant education.


School’s dropout rates have remained under 5% since 2014


62% have enrolled in, are attending, or have graduated from 3rd level education


More than half of teaching staff are female
  • In 2015, 184 of the 1011 girls enrolled in Secondary School were enrolled at Loreto Girls Secondary School. In 2017, we had an enrollment of 240 young women.
  • The girls can choose an academic path – either arts, or sciences. The school supplements the standard South Sudan curriculum with an English intensive program, computer training, and practical application for agriculture and computer skills.
  • In 2014, the class of 23 girls that graduated was lauded by the UN as the largest single cohort of girls to graduate from a single institution in this area. In 2016, Loreto Girls Secondary School graduated 29 girls with a 100% pass rate and all girls scoring above 60% in the National Secondary School Certificate Examination.
  • At Loreto, the student to textbook ratio is 1:1.
  • More than half of the teaching staff at Loreto is female.
  • All students receive free access to medication and health services from trained and experienced nurses who are always on call.
  • Loreto Girls Secondary School’s dropout rates have remained under 5% since 2014 (4.5%, 3.9%, and 2.9%; 2014, 2015, and 2016, respectively).
  • Loreto girls receive a relevant education: 62% have enrolled in, are attending, or have graduated from tertiary education; 31% are currently formally employed at NGOs, government ministries, education institutions, and health service providers.
  • Loreto girls have access to power and water all day and night.
    There is 1 toilet for every 6 girls in a safe environment that offers protection from sexual harassment.

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