Lessons under trees in South Sudan

Books helping girls succeed in South Sudan

15th March 2018 | Blog

South Sudan has the highest rate of female illiteracy in the world. According to our partner Africa Educational Trust, a girl in South Sudan is three times more likely to die in childbirth than to finish her primary education. An ongoing conflict means that South Sudan has fewer female children in education than any other country, with only 34% of girls attending primary and just 3% attending secondary school.

We have been working with our partners in South Sudan to get brand new books to readers there since the country gained independence in 2011 and are proud to support schools like Ibba Girls’ School. We asked a few of their pupils to share their experience of how books can help women and girls like them in South Sudan.

Ibba Girls School pupils
L-R: Doris, Jenty, Jackline, Esther, Mboriidie Suzan


 Reading books helped me to know more about the importance of education and have a positive attitude towards school,

says Mboriidie Suzan.

“I read about girls who read and completed their studies and became achievers in their country. A girl who goes to school and reads books gets employed and helps her family.”


Mobile library
A mobile library run by our partner Africa Educational Trust


Doris agrees:

“A girl who goes to school and reads about the achievement of other educated girls and women gets motivated to continue with her studies.”

Reading books helps girls to recognise that all girls and boys are equal.

“This has helped us to know that girls must also take education seriously just as the boys do. Girls have equal ability to perform well in both classroom work and sports activities just as the boys do.”


Pupils gather outside a classroom
Pupils gather outside a classroom


Jenty adds:

Reading books widens my knowledge.

“I learn many skills; speaking, learning new information, writing and listening. Girls who go to school and read lots of books are exposed to knowledge and skills that could take them to many places around the world.”

But for the girls, education and books don’t just help them pursue a better future; reading and literacy are key to healthcare, as Esther explains:

Reading books on hygiene has helped me to prevent myself from getting diseases such as malaria, typhoid, yellow fever, cholera and meningitis.


Adult learners
Our partners also use the books you help to send to support adult learners


Jackline continues:

“When a girl develops life skills through reading, she can deliver services like giving First Aid when an accident occurs, when a snake bites or an insect stings.”

Mboriidie Suzan agrees:

An educated girl or woman who reads would also learn how to take care of her children and prevent them from getting diseases.”

Books are also helping the girls to develop more general life skills. Esther is now able to care better for animals:

Reading books on animals has made me understand more about caring for animals.

“Now I can take care of them. For example; through books I can remove ticks from their bodies, I have learnt how to feed animals and also learnt basic procedures to treat animals with medicine when they are sick.”


Outside a school
Pupils gather under the trees for lessons


Mboriidie Suzan adds

“Through reading, an girl or woman improves her living standards by learning about modern ways of life such as the ability to communicate on phones, or use the internet.”

Summing up the value of books and education, Mboriidie Suzan says:

Such a girl who goes to school and reads books will always build self-confidence with positive behaviour to succeed.

About South Sudan

South Sudan is the world’s newest country and gained independence from Sudan in 2011, following Africa’s longest-running civil war. However, independence did not bring conflict in South Sudan to an end. The 2013-2015 civil war displaced 2.2 million people and although a peace deal was signed in 2015, the conflict continues.


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