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عربي

Fear drives students in South Sudan’s WES to neighbouring countries

Joseph Nashion
Violence and the lack of education opportunities have driven many young people from Western Equatoria State to study abroad.
13.05.2014  |  Yambio
The State Minister of Education in Western Equatoria Pia Philip in his office in Yambio, November 19, 2013.
The State Minister of Education in Western Equatoria Pia Philip in his office in Yambio, November 19, 2013.

Stephen Wandu, one of many South Sudanese students in the Ugandan capital Kampala, says he decided to study abroad after the LRA, the rebels behind one of Africa\'s longest running insurgencies, kidnapped his friends and killed many people from his region.

I lived at a place called Asanza and often it was attacked by the LRA,” he said. One day my colleagues were kidnapped by this group when they returned from school. They never came back again.”

I like to see good education facilities well built institutions and health facilities, but this will take time.”
Stephen Wandu
He and his siblings moved to Yambio town after the incident. I had to lay bricks which I sold to a Ugandan contractor who advised me that studies in Uganda were good so I made my way to Uganda,” said Wandu, who now holds a diploma in public relations.

He thinks his move saved his life. Of the few people I knew in my state, none are alive”.

He adds that education facilities in his home state are poor and teachers are in short supply. An estimated 10,000 Equatorians are studying abroad, mostly in Uganda. Another 7,000 study in Kenya.

I like to see good education facilities well built institutions and health facilities, but this will take time,” he added.

The State Minister of Education in Western Equatoria Pia Philip agreed that many students in the state and South Sudan as a whole seek quality education outside the country.

Philip pinned this trend on a number of factors, but mostly to a lack of a reliable system of higher education systems in the young country. There are students who are discouraged in Juba University for example, who have been enrolled for three years course but they find themselves spending five years or more, the two years added are because of strikes, lack of consistency in the delivery of education services,” he said, adding that many students opt to complete a course in three years in a neighbouring nation instead.

We can’t continue with text books which were written in the 1980s.”
Pia Philip
The minister said students in Western Equatoria State lack access to tertiary institutions, he added that there are no tertiary schools in the state which are government supported. The only tertiary institution within Yambio County is Mikese University, a private university which is struggling to provide all faculties.

The minister argued that a shortage of text books, electronic journals and libraries hampered South Sudanese students. We can’t continue with text books which were written in the 1980s. In the 21st century there is the need to be in line with the changes,” he said, adding that laboratories were lacking, meaning that medical students were not properly trained.

The cross boarder migration also meant that the students adopted cultural traditions from elsewhere, altering the culture of the region, he said. Instead, he backed the creation of an Equatoria University, a proposal made two years ago but which has not yet become reality.