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Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS): Attendance Monitoring System, Cash Transfers and Capitation Grants, and Knowledge Evidence and Research (KER)

Girls' Education South Sudan 1 (GESS 1) was a six-and-a-half-year programme contracted on a “Design and Build” basis to promote enrolment, attendance, and retention at school. Funded by DFID and working with Ministry of General Education and Instruction and Government of the Republic of South Sudan, it aimed to have a nationally transformative impact – and it did: -

In the seven years from the start of implementation, total school enrolment tripled from 928,000 in 2014 to 2.7m in 2020, and girls’ enrolment quadrupled. In 2014, girls accounted for <40% of all pupils rising to 49% by 2021.

As South Sudan education experts, CGA was a member of the GESS1 delivery consortium and wrote the core design of the whole programme for MoGEI and DFID. CGA led the South Sudan Schools' Enrolment and Attendance Monitoring System, Cash Transfer and Capitation Grants, and Knowledge Evidence and Research (KER) components.

Country/Region: South Sudan
Dates/Duration: 2013 - 2018
Funded by: DFID
Clients: Ministry of General Education and Instruction, BMB Mott MacDonald


South Sudan Schools' Enrolment and Attendance Monitoring System (SSSAMS)

CGA created and led the South Sudan Schools' Enrolment and Attendance Monitoring System ( component of the GESS1 programme. is a web-based, real-time reporting system for individuals and project monitoring, which records individual pupil enrolment and attendance data. It collects real-time, disaggregated data from schools across the whole country using SMS coding, and the results are displayed on an open-source online dashboard to guide education sector programming.

Within, we created the School Budget Reporting Tool (SBRT), which manages data on the flow of government and donor funds to school level and gathers accountability documentation. 

To support management of the system, we established the Education Transfers Monitoring Committee (ETMC) as the key governance structure for real-time management of enrolment and retention, and approval of school grants and cash transfers), which is still active today.

Cash Transfers and Capitation Grants

Under GESS1, CGA designed and implemented national systems for the distribution of Cash Transfers to girls, and Capitation Grants for schools, including developing remote accountability mechanisms, governance and delivery structures.

Within, we created a Cash Transfer tool to manage the eligibility and delivery of cash to over 300,000 girls nationwide. We also created governance and financial structures to provide effective management and low fiducial risk in distributing the grants, and created a Cash Transfer Strategy allowing the government to sustain the programme. CGA designed the Steering Committee and Technical Committee to oversee and manage the programme.  

CGA mapped all education activities and their funding mechanisms at-scale and for different levels of governance. This included analysing school funding mechanisms and the involvement of subnational government organisations, such as Payam in the financial management of schools, based on the team's strong background in the sector since 2006. 

Knowledge Evidence and Research (KER)

CGA was the technical lead on the GESS1 Knowledge, Evidence and Research Component. 

We delivered comprehensive national base-line, mid-line and end-line research, exceeding GESS1 log frame requirements, and using qualitative and quantitative methods, including school and household surveys, surveys of subnational education capacity, and longitudinal qualitative surveys. We also extended coverage to areas with challenging operational and security contexts. 

KER aimed to generate knowledge about best practises in girls’ education, to develop an evidence base for the impact of project interventions, and to learn about the successes and failures in design, to protect against doing harm and to monitor value for money.


GESS1 had a major impact on education in South Sudan. In the seven years from the start of series implementation, total school enrolment tripled, and girls’ enrolment quadrupled.

Our pupil attendance monitoring system and education finance system SSSAMS is still used by the government and partners to track activities and milestones. They supported the delivery of 590,000 school grants, cash transfers and teacher incentives, which helped triple school enrolment from 928,000 in 2014 in just over 3000 schools to 2.7m in 2020, in over 5000 schools. As part of this, girls enrolment increased from <39% to >45%.

Independent research has demonstrated the impact of Cash Transfers on girls' enrolment and CGA's work on Capitation Grants to schools leveraged the Government of South Sudan to commit its own budget to Capitation Grants for primary schools. 

Following the completion of GESS1, DFID committed to 2 million more transfers to an estimated 600,000 unique recipients 2019-2023.

CGA drove the stand-up of the 2013 programme, and then series operations 2014-2018, culminating in a rarely awarded A++ rating from DFID.


Outputs and Resources

  • Breaking barriers to girls' education by breaking cycles of poverty - Cash Transfers in South Sudan: a case study

    A paper by Naomi Clugston presented at the CALP Network’s Gender Symposium in February 2018.

    The cash transfer component of the Girls’ Education South Sudan (GESS) programme was implemented in the Republic of South Sudan (RSS) at a time of high insecurity and economic collapse. It was implemented in a context where social and cultural norms and economic constraints mutually reinforce to reduce the priority given to girls’ education by poor families. It provided CTs of a relatively low value compared to those provided in other relevantly similar programmes. Despite the low values, research suggests that the cash transfers contributed to an increase in the proportion of girls enrolled in school from less than 40 percent in 2014 to 44.4 percent in 2017.3 This increase occurred in the context of a 63 percent overall increase in reported enrolment between 2014 and 2017. This paper considers three possible explanations for the impact of the GESS CT programming.

    See the full report
  • The effect of financial aid from UK Aid Girls’ Education South Sudan programme and EU IMPACT programme to education in South Sudan in 2017

    Research paper by Lee Crawfurd, University of Sussex. 2017.

    See the paper
  • Cash Grants for Schools and Pupils can Increase Enrolment & Attendance Despite Ongoing Conflict: Findings from South Sudan

    Research paper by Lee Crawfurd, Center for Global Development & University of Sussex. 2016.

    See the report
  • Research Brief: The Effect of a Large-Scale National Cash Grants Programmes on Enrolment and Attendance

    Research brief by Lee Crawfurd - University of Sussex & Center for Global Development. 2016.

    A rigorous independent analysis of the impact of GESS 2014- 2016, based on the national SSSAMS data set, found that: capitation grants and cash transfers make schools more likely to remain open, increase their enrolment numbers, and increase attendance rates, despite the prevalence of substantial ongoing levels of violence and conflict.

    See the full research brief
  • GESS Annual Review 2017

    GESS has continued to deliver to a high quality programme since the 2016 Annual Review, despite operating in a protracted crisis context. Since 2013, GESS has built a functional and flexible organisation across the country comprising 6 State Anchors covering 10 states, a headquarters in Juba and 300 staff. This has allowed GESS to provide a lifeline to girls to enrol in and attend school, which has incrementally changed the demographics of the school population in South Sudan over the course of the programme. It has also supported schools through capitation grants, the delivery and robust monitoring of which have resulted in improved accountability at national and local levels...

    Download the full report
  • A Technology for Education leap forward: Sometimes you just need an empowered committee!

    A blog by George Mogga Benjamin and Charlie Goldsmith. 2021.

    As Earth’s orbit is littered, after 50 years of innovation, with zombified space junk, so the internet has its share of the abandoned wrecks of well-meaning public digital innovation continuing to circle fruitlessly, lacking updates or readers. One exception is South Sudan’s Schools Attendance Monitoring System (SAMS), which you can see, in its eighth year of full national operation, at SAMS is used for school pupil enrolment and attendance monitoring; the data it generates forms the basis on which school grants, cash transfers and teacher incentives are paid out. It’s a good piece of tech4dev, and we’re proud of it...

    See the full story