Building Hopes For Higher Education In South Sudan

South Sudan, the newly formed African country is reeling under the war, leaving behind nothing but a state of deprivation, dysfunctional government, untapped natural resources, and large social vacuum in terms of unemployment, cash-strapped education sector and falling social security. The ongoing war has not only jeopardized the economic system, but also has devastated the educational front of the nation.

The Universities in South Sudan have fallen under the shadow of war, with no chance for higher education and skill development. All most all the universities in the country are ripped apart with no guaranteed state funding, lack of infrastructure, and understaffing. The war has taken its toll in terms of manpower and resources.

John Garang Memorial University of Science and Technology in Bor, and Upper Nile University in Malakal are locked sine die. On the other õýíä, the University of Juba, the University of Rumbek in Lakes state, the University of Bahr El Ghazal and the private university, Juba’s Catholic University of South Sudan have started functioning.

What’s the most difficult thing in South Sudan is to keep the sources of revenue making their way to the treasury. The gripping war has left no oil production, country’s main economic driver, thus by squeezing the flow of money to the developmental works such as reviving the sick educational sector. The only way to achieve a turnaround in the educational sector is pumping as much capital possible at the given period of time.

The newly appointed head of the National Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. John GaiYoh, has started to take up projects concerning the five universities and provide them with the much-needed attention. But the situation has drastically deteriorated. The ongoing war has left its indelible mark in every inch of this nation.People are in exile. Rebels are attacking the town and damaging the civilian and government properties. University buildings are being ransacked. Students and staffs are being slaughtered. Dr John ApuruAkec, vice-chancellor, University of Juba is taking up all measures to implement the new policies. But the war has left everything protracted. The Catholic University of South Sudan has witnessed dozens of its students slain in the war and many more have fled. Even projects from Virginia Polytechnic Institute, USA and US Agency for International Development were closed in fear of war.

The important task that lurks in front of this country is to upgrade the existing educational structure by increasing the budget allocation. Currently the amount is just 0.4% of the union budget amount US$5.6 billion. It will lead towards an increase in faculty members and large inflow of students, better accommodation and infrastructure. The government has also put up the plan to modify the existing salary structure of the university staff to attract more resourceful people to the academia. This will stop key people defecting to the Gulf States. The proposal “The New Transformative Agenda 2025 for Education in South Sudan” prepared by Dr.John GaiYoh, has plans for revamping the existing curriculum, bringing in stringent recruitment policies, increasing space to accommodate more students, and introducing better technology. The complete overhaul strategy of the minister also includes setting up of vocational training and skill development units by turning the proposed universities such as the University of Bentiu in Unity state, University of Western Equatoria in Yambio, and the University of Torit in Eastern Equatoria.

There is a greater challenge lying ahead where the government of South Sudan has to make a clarion call to improve the living conditions of people and provide better education. The comprehensive solution to the problems of this country might seem difficult to realize, but there will definitely be a new day and a new sunshine as soon as the war ends; the state lives up to its promises.

Africa, Higher Education, news

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