Monday, 9 May 2011
By Ariik-Dut Atekdit
It has been a long silence since last year that all southern Sudan universities closed down because of referendum. During those days everybody was filled with the referendum spirit of patriotism and an interest to vote for separation. So with no doubt all the students in southern universities accept to go for referendum and come for education maybe after separation results. Of course South Sudan is registered with five national universities of Juba, Upper Nile, Bahr el Ghazal, Rumbek and John Garang University of science and technology.
These universities have not been operational since the time of referendum for reasons best known to Government of South Sudan (GoSS) ministry of Higher education. The five institutions in the new nation are the only existing government departments for human knowledge expansion in higher education and of course they have been on deferment for about five or more months since last year. The GoSS ministry responsible for the universities has been from time to time pushing the regional universities calendars from unknown date to other unpredictable dates ahead of nowhere causing a lot of irregularities. This of course has confused a number of students across the newly born nation as all but none is kept in dilemma. So what is the problem here? We voted for our new nation and we better continue with our education or we shall not be productive.
Rumors say that the ministry of higher education is caught unprepared to welcome faculties with students which used to operate in the north with what they term to be lack of accommodations. However, I can not really agree with that cheap reason put forward by the concerned bodies if it is alleged that way. Repatriating south Sudanese universities from the north to their original places was a decision of long time ago since the formation of GoSS; tongues in Juba have never stopped speaking on this fact. And so everybody knew very well that South Sudan universities would be transferred to their original places in the South even though the country would remain united. This is a simple fact I want to underline. So whether caught unprepared or not everybody knew about it.
I blame GoSS for not constructing any university buildings until now. Building the universities’ infrastructures whether being in Juba, Wau, Malakal or elsewhere would be better if it was done earlier. But I just wonder why our leaders always keep things late until the darkest hours.
The ministry itself is to be blamed of not making possible measures during these five months to build some infrastructures to accommodate the repatriated faculties and students. I would like our leaders to sit down and draw plans and straighten framework that will help these talented students in their quest for education. If it is not done this way, then there is no reason of saying that people want to eliminate illiteracy. It will be purely a support to unwanted illiteracy in the region. Suspending five universities of hundreds of thousands students will not be a wise idea at all.
Whatsoever the case maybe; my question remains: Why does GoSS sponsor students abroad and leave local universities unprepared? This question desires an answer. It is not fair that other hundreds of thousands of students are cheerfully pursuing their various professions in the neighbouring countries under GoSS sponsorship while it is difficult for the same GoSS to build lecture halls or hire lecturers to teach in the South. If the Government in Juba wants to suspend our studies in the south then we want the GoSS abroad-sponsored-students to hold on until the government is ready to build our universities or sponsor all of us if that would be better. I think it is much better and cheaper to widen the standard of our local universities and their infrastructures instead of depending on foreign learning for ages that does not work. It is just a waste of large amount of national resources. It is not wise at all for a country like South Sudan to depend on the neighbouring countries for everything like to say food, other goods including education.
Since January I have not seen any new building being raised in Upper Nile University Malakal campus and yet the ministry says they are working to set up infrastructures for the southern universities; if this situation is the same every where subsequently the future of our students and their universities is at its critical point.
We have seen that children of GoSS officials are not studying in South Sudan. Their children are sent to abroad to search for better education leaving us here in this unsolved situation with numbering conditions. We have so far learnt that our government officials don’t want to improve better education in the south because GoSS sponsor their children abroad. This is not patriotism at all and we need to evaluate our love for the nation more than sticking on the continuous selfishness that has erased ideas of unity and development in our big people’s brains.
Once again it’s not time for us to waste money by offering scholarship in foreign countries. The money that is supposed to be used for the aforementioned foreign scholarship should be used for expanding, renovating and constructing South Sudan universities, in order to accommodate the huge influx of returnee students from North Sudan.