BY: Both Nguot Toal, SOUTH SUDAN, OCT. 5/2012, SSN;
When South Sudan became an independent state last year, many people hoped that the new nation will change the marginalization imposed on us by the Arab in the north when south Sudanese were not allowed to acquire education as their basic right. This resulted in mass immigration of many south Sudanese to East African countries as well as to the Western world to acquire knowledge, and some individuals went and studied in Khartoum. The few individuals who acquired knowledge were not allowed to work in government simply because they were south Sudanese and as result many students went to the bush especially the graduates. The others who accepted the remained in Khartoum were forced to work in the manual jobs such as building and farming in government projects such as Gezira schemes in eastern Sudan despite the fact that they (south Sudanese) have degrees and Diplomas.
On the other hand, some individuals who were discouraged by the situation left their studies and went back home for farming in south Sudan, others became Muslims just to get their daily services. Despite all these challenges facing south Sudanese in the old Sudan, the majority did not abandon their studies even though they were not allowed to get jobs in the government.
In those days, there were some missionaries schools operating in south, where south Sudanese to learn English since it was not accepted in the government schools in the old Sudan. From there some students were sent for studies abroad through missionaries schools and +acquired knowledge with excellence that they could compete internationally more than it is today.
Last year, South Sudan got its independence from the successive regimes of Sudan through a struggle which caused 2.5 million dead and displaced thousands to the neighboring states. That means southerners have been in war for 50 years. What are we supposed to do as an independent nation with its own sovereignty and as the country that has just emerged out from war?
Are we going to change the environment that we have been in for so many years or do we continue with the same situation created by Sudanese governments against our innocent people?
After the signing of the comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) between the SPLM/A and the Sudan government, South Sudan as an autonomous region which had some powers to run its state policies without consulting the national government in Khartoum, was supposed to see the issue of education as its first priority so as to eradicate the rate of illiteracy from our huge population in south Sudan.
In this case, schools are to be built in every state rather than taking children to study in East African countries which cost a lot of money. Instead, government should have encouraged the citizens by constructing Schools and hiring teachers from abroad if the issue is because there are no teachers to teach in the country till we make our foundation.
Unfortunately, that did not happen as it was supposed to be. Instead, those responsible in government took their children somewhere else leaving the country without good education.
In south Sudan, the children of the poor families are the one studying in the country, why, because they do not have the ability of taking their children abroad, leaving the poor venerable.
For how long will our children continue studying in foreign countries while we are an independent nation? Is it difficult for government to construct Schools? If yes, what is its duty as a government? Who do you think will construct schools rather than government? Is it the responsibilities of UN, USA, EU or AU to continue supporting us even after we became an independent nation? I do not think so.
Therefore, as citizens of south Sudan who has been at war for a period of 50 years and who have seen all the events happening during and after the independence of south Sudan, we should look into the future of education in south Sudan and work hard for the goodness of our young generation to enjoy the fruits of our struggle.
If government is ignoring the system of education, what do we think the future education will be for the poor people who have no ability of taking their children abroad? What does it mean to be an independent nation if we are not able to promote education in our country?
Since we became an independent state, I do not see any reasons of continuing taking our children to east African countries for acquiring knowledge, instead, government must construct schools and train teachers from all educational sectors to teach our children locally rather than taking our resources to the neighboring countries without benefit.
The money you use for renting houses in those particular countries and the huge amounts you paid in dollars for the school fees of your children can educate twenty people from your relatives and build modern houses in south Sudan.
Since government officials are taking their children abroad, education in south Sudan will remain without any progress, simply because they are the ones running the affairs of this new nation. For instance, the minister of general and higher education, if his children are studying abroad, what do you think the minister will do in this country?
Even if there are no schools for so many years, they will not see it as a problem because their children are not here in south Sudan.
Therefore, for South Sudan to eradicate the rate of illiteracy in the country, the children of ministers who took our wealth to the foreign countries must return back to the country and study together with the poor families. That will be the time when we will see a change in the country. If not, South Sudan as a nation will never make any progress in any aspect whereby our country will continue with this spirit of tribalism, nepotism and other unlawful things that an educated people cannot do.
As a nation which has just come out from war, we have to consider education as our first priority so as to change the spirit of tribalism and to bring our people together for the development of this new nation and build a prosperous nation that respects the diversity, makes a stable state and lays the foundation for a united, peaceful and prosperous society based on justice, equality, respect for human rights and the rule of law.
Therefore, for South Sudan to be a free nation is to avoid ignoring education and to adopt a good system of government that can lead its citizens not to be the victims of others but to enjoy the everlasting freedom of this new nation, rather than too much greed for wealth and desire of becoming rich quickly due to low life expectancy.
Finally, for the coming generation to live free and to allow the development to take place, the leadership of the country must look into this problem; because in a country where education is ignored, tribalism, nepotism and instability will not end.
(Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and not of the website)