Thousands of schoolchildren joined policy makers to take part in the launch of the Every Last Child campaign in seven locations across South Sudan.
Naima Poni was one schoolgirl from Comboni SS – Juba who was inspired to write poetry calling on leaders to support girls' education.
In South Sudan, only 35.4% of girls are enrolled at primary school level and a shocking 1.9% at secondary level. 7.3% of girls are married before 15 years. 12% of girls under 18 years in South Sudan drop out of school every year due to child marriage.
The launch of the campaign is important in building critical mass – a movement of millions of people who will help us influence key decision makers to institute policy and legal reforms to remove the socio-cultural, economic, and political obstacles that make it difficult for girls in South Sudan to enjoy their rights as children, realise their full potential, and succeed in life.
Read Naima's poems below which poignantly illustrate the issues affecting girls.
Give me a chance
Education, education, education.
Oh! What a life
You are a girl, go for water, firewood, and wait for marriage.
No school, no education
Another day comes with the same problems.
No school, no education.
Mothers and Fathers do not care.
Clean the house, prepare food, the kitchen is my class room, saucepans, plates and knives are my scholastic materials.
OH! What a life.
I sit down with tears in my eyes.
I begin to think.
Am I an animal, tree or a mountain.
No. I am your beloved daughter, your child.
I am your beloved daughter, born with the right to education.
Give me a chance, and I will prove it.
Give me a chance I beg you.
Parents, wake up, wake up now,
Leaders support girls' education.
Save the children, save us for the better future.
Girls have the right to education.
We are girls, we are children.
We need education,
We love education,
Give us a chance.
For a better future in life.
A cry of a poor girl
I heard a cry of a poor girl
Crying in the dark corner of the nation.
Crying for help, crying for peace
She is now crying for education.
Crying for support.
But her mother and father are poor.
They cannot afford her education.
She looks to her right, left, back and front.
But found no one to help her.
So poverty becomes her destiny and her home.
Poverty is holding her back from her bright future.
So her mother becomes her teacher, kitchen becomes her school, saucepans her books and spoons her pens.
Food is her lesson and finally marriage is the only solution.
Fire and saucepans are not the only weapon for a girl. Books and pens is the most powerful weapon.
If one child, one teacher, one pen and one book can change the world.
Why not her to change the world.
She is in need of your support.
To the president, Ministers, commissioners, Government officials, Save the children and civil society.
She is in need of your help.