A young boy at a cattle camp in Bor. Parent use young children to look after family cattle instead of attending school. [Gurtong | Jacob Achiek Jok]
By Jacob Achiek Jok
BOR, 14 October 2012 [Gurtong] – A 10 year old boy at Jalle ‘Weereh’ cattle camp says that the he cannot attend school at this time as his family has given him the responsibility to take care of the cattle at the camp.
“I was in Bor town with my mother when my father was residing here at the cattle camp looking after our cows, but recently I was brought by my mother to look after our cows for about two week time,” said Ayuen Manyang Malual.
Manyang says that looking after cattle is not good and he needs to get back to school but will have to wait for his father to come back.
“I will go back to school if my father is back in the coming week. I was told to be here for only two weeks but now I have spent more than a month and I have become a cattle keeper which is not good,” he said.
Manyang was in primary one with his cousins at Bor B Primary School.
Even though the World Bank report on education status in South Sudan shows an improved access to primary school education, the completion and retention of children in schools remain poor.
According to the report, only a third of all the children who enroll for primary education reach the end of primary education cycle (P1 to P8).
Rural children, poorer children and girls are considerably more disadvantaged in terms of school enrollment and retention.
Central Equatoria State has the highest rate of primary eight attainments while Jonglei and Warrap have the lowest rates.
The report cited shortage of text books, papers and writing materials, incomplete syllabus coverage and a reduction in government’s expenditure per pupil as the key challenges affecting the learning environment in South Sudan.
“Both my mother and father are illiterate and none of my relatives has gone to school and I am not willing to be like them, looking after the cows. I like to be like my young mates who are now in primary too,” he says.
Dinka Bor boys help their parents at the cattle camps but high percentages of the children have since started joining school this year with a few parents still using their children to look after cattle.