Meet Joy Malish Milla, a 21-year-old orphan who is working as a tea seller after failing to get enough money to go to college.
“I started this work in September this year,” standing at her tea stand in Juba, a soft-spoken Joy told Eye Radio at the busy Gudele 1 checkpoint.
She works hard selling tea – from 6 in the morning up to 6 in the evening – but Joy dreams of becoming a doctor.
“I am asking for support,” she said.
But Joy can’t be a doctor right now because she says “I have no school items and I have no money for my special needs.”
These needs include sanitary pads, body lotion, washing and bathing soap.
Joy sat for South Sudan secondary school certificate in 2018 at Supiri secondary School in science with a 58% result.
But she couldn’t afford to continue her university education so she is selling tea to pay for her necessities.
Joy’s mother died when she was 2 years old and she was raised by her grandmother. She is living now with her uncle who is working as a policeman and she says what he is earning is barely enough to support his family of six, much less cover university tuition.
In 2017, Joy’s father died of stomach-related problems and she felt helpless in terms of getting treatment for him – and so Joy wants to study medicine so that if it “happens to someone else, I can help. That is why I want to become a doctor.”
Although primary education is free and compulsory in South Sudan, there are a lot of costs associated with sending children to school in urban and rural areas.
Joy says she really wants to go to college but is also faced with the prospects of having to buy school uniforms, textbooks and affording transportation.
In 2018, 156,085 girls enrolled in Primary 1 (P1) but only 5,272 in Secondary 4 (S4), according to Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS), a programme that supports the education of girls and those in the margins of society.
Joy is one –but statistic– among those who have not enrolled.
“There are so many ladies who have the chance for education but they don’t want to study. But for those who want education like me, they don’t get support,” Joy lamented.
Experts say girls education policies should be reviewed to include villages, households, schools, chiefs and parents to understand the importance of the girl child education.
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