Gender Equality, Inspiration

Science and Technology for Girls in South Sudan

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Economic inequality is endemic for women in the vast majority of global economies. Many Americans are familiar with the gender pay gap that exists in their own country, but are unaware of the specific challenges faced by women living in the least developed nations. Men in under developed areas have opportunities to learn marketable skills through technical vocational education training (TVET) programs. Governments often provide TVET for citizens to entice corporations to move businesses to regions with a high concentration of skilled workers. In addition to generating tax revenue, these businesses raise the standard of living for its employees.

In many African nations, women are often excluded from the benefits of skilled labor because of a distinct lack of access to technical education. A UNESCO roundtable on the state of female participation in TVET concluded that many of the countries represented did not implement gender equality in these programs. This was due to an absence of support from future employers and educational institutions themselves. The UNESCO roundtable concluded schools that accommodate for women have more success providing future opportunities for women. These accommodations are as simple as providing separate female restrooms and as complex as providing female educators or fostering a tolerant environment. The discussion found that female participation in these programs is hampered by a lack of funding. Some TVET programs are unable to address the pressing issues that affect gender equality because of their lack of financial resources.

Women in underdeveloped regions  face cultural barriers to participating in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. More women enroll in arts and social sciences programs than they do in STEM programs. The disparity in enrollment is largely due to the social structures that push women away from these fields. Female participation in STEM occupations is also negatively affected by societal beliefs about the appropriate roles of women and the expectation that women will live in a traditional, domestic lifestyle. These attitudes are compounded by perceived differences in the ability for men and women to thrive in the workplace that are reinforced in schools. Barriers exist for women looking to better their economic prospects by participating in STEM programs. The aforementioned cycle of discrimination will be left unbroken without a disruption at the grassroots level. Marial Bai Secondary School has acted as the catalyst for progressive change for women in South Sudan by providing students an equal opportunity to learn STEM subjects.

Woodworking girl

Wood working girl

Promoting equality through coeducational learning is central to the philosophy of Marial Bai Secondary School (MBSS). Students of both genders are able to participate in a variety of extra-curricular activities that have vocational applications. The girls are encouraged to participate in all areas of training, including radio and technology repair, woodworking, which are traditionally limited to male students. While agriculture in South Sudan is primarily a domestic task and animal husbandry is a male dominated profession, our young men and women boarding students participate equally. MBSS’s Agriculture Club tends to the school’s on-campus farm. All students learn advanced agricultural techniques as well as bookkeeping, seasonal trends, and livestock care. Their work not only supports the meal program for students and faculty at the school, but also provides them with a unique work experience. The Science Club oversees a community service project that manufactures and distributes candles, school chalk, and girlschalkbody lotion. By taking over all aspects of the production of these items, students learn professional communication and logistical skills as well as the basics of chemical manufacturing.

Our highly qualified teaching staff that includes men and women, moves forward the environment of gender equality. With your support, MBSS can continue to operate as a source of stability for young people, but women in particular, in South Sudan. MBSS’s ability to provide adequate boarding and classroom space will be stretched to its limit as more students come to access its varied learning opportunities. Your donations not only support the students and teachers at MBSS, but also indirectly promote a more equitable future for the South Sundanese people by offering both genders full access to an applied, scientific education.