Opinion | Where is inclusive education if other kids are denied national exams?

“Denying children examination means promotion of tribal bigotry – intolerance towards people from other tribes.”

Minister of Education, Awut Deng Acuil bans national exams in SPLM-IO-controlled areas | Photo: © Thessherald

South Sudan literacy rate was reported at around 34.5% in 2018, placing the youngest nation among the least literate countries in Africa as well as in the world. The low rate is a result of 21 years of civil war between Sudan government and southern Sudan rebels or SPLA. After the independence, the country went to war with herself in 2013 and again in 2016 forcing nearly 4 million people to seek refuge and asylum in neighboring countries such as Sudan, Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia.

There is no doubt that the high illiteracy rate in the country is prolonging the crisis as masses of illiterate men and women are mobilized to fight the war. You see the effect of illiteracy? It keeps you in the darkness. You are chained down by your own mind. Things that need logic to solve are taken in spiritual contexts. Despite 2013 conflict, South Sudan Ministry of General Education and Instructions continued to improve education system in the country. The Ministry launched the first post-independence national curriculum on September 8th, 2015 and new textbooks for the new curriculum on March 7th, 2019.

With the new curriculum and textbooks, there is no doubt that children and young people in South Sudan will gain knowledge, skills and even restore South Sudanese values and morals that were lost during the war with northern Sudan. South Sudan has the world’s highest fraction of out of school children with over 70% of school-aged children out of school (UNESCO, 2018).

If you visit any cattle camp in the country, you will find that majority of people rearing cattle are children and women. Early this year, the Ministry of Education and Instructions (MoGEI) celebrated the International Literacy Day (ILD) under the theme “Literacy Teaching and Learning in COVID-19 Crisis and beyond”.

During the celebration, the Minister of Education Hon. Awut Deng Acuil emphasized the importance of education as a right of every child in the country. On January 29th, 2021, the Office of the Minister of Education issued a press statement informing the candidates, parents and stakeholders that the process of the 2020 examinations have been put in place in accordance with resolutions of the 2nd extra-ordinary meeting of the Council of Ministers dated September 22nd 2020.

As candidates and parents were celebrating and applauding the Ministry of Education for following the timeframe that was set in September by the Council of Ministers, another press statement was issued on February 4th cancelling all the Primary Eight (P.8) examinations in SPLA-IO controlled areas, citing lack of protection from South Sudan National Police Services and Security.

This is very unfortunate for the parents and particularly children who have been preparing for nearly 1 year to sit for Certificate of Primary Education (CPE). On the other hand, the future of Revitalized Transitional Government of National Unity (RTGoNU) hangs on unbalanced beam. According to South Sudan’s Constitution of 2011 with amendments in 2013, under the bill of rights, it states that “Every child shall have access to education without discrimination”.

Now, where is the inclusive education if other kids are not allowed to sit for national examinations? Do you know the trauma you have subjected these children to? They will grow up hating the system. Don’t be surprised to see some of these kids growing up in rural towns or even in the cities in South Sudan as hooligans.

We already have thousands of kids in the streets in the country. As a result of this decision, some of them will join the rest of the street children due to frustration and fear of future. Denying children examination means promotion of tribal bigotry – intolerance towards people from other tribes or social group.

Honorable Minister, take a deep breath, close your eyes for some few seconds, and put yourself into shoes of a 13 years old young girl in Nyirol or other SPLA-IO controlled areas. What do you see? Again, put yourself in shoes of child who has been preparing for several months to sit for CPE and finally told not to sit for national examinations.

What do you see? Children know only South Sudan as a country and many cannot even differentiate between SPLA-IO and government controlled areas. Dear Honorable Minister, if you knew these children will not sit for Certificate of Primary Education, why did you allow candidate classes in those areas to reopen? Why? You made them waste their times and resources. Don’t you think these kids have all rights to sue you? Even in the Ministry of Education, I am sure there are people who are not happy with your decision. You don’t need guns or heavy artilleries to protect examination papers. Professional teachers marking examination scripts can detect whether the examinations were leaked or not.

If such irregularities are spotted during the marking of scripts, then that particular school can be banned by withdrawing examination centre number for some years. In conclusion, I humbly request the Ministry of General Education and Instructions (MoGEI) to give children in SPLA-IO controlled areas an alternative examination papers since they will miss the first scheduled examination on February 8th 2021. Such examinations can be facilitated by neutral body such as United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and other UN agencies operating in SPLA-IO controlled areas. I believe the MoGEI is preparing children for bright future and prosperous South Sudan irrespective of their religion, ethnicity, or geographical area.

The author is a concerned South Sudanese citizen and can be reached at duomchol87@gmail.com.

The views expressed in this “Opinion Section” belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The South Sudan Herald. Should you wish to submit your opinion piece or analysis, kindly contact us at: thessherald@gmail.com

The Centre of Moral Decadent: the case of Juba City

Opinion | By Juol Nhomngek Gec

The role of any Government is to protect the culture of her citizens. The protection involves putting limit on freedoms of her citizens. The reasons for protecting morals and customs of the people is that it is another way of protecting family which the law describes as the basic unit of the society.

The family that is founded on morals creates the strong society. The country where families are protected is the country where people protect their moral inheritance. The pride of any Nation is moral and cultural inheritance.

China and Japan for instance are doing well moral wise because their governance is founded on their original cultures. The communities in the countries with strong morals are occupied by indigenous Communities with original cultures.

Like South Sudan, our cultures are traditions and if we can protect and promote our cultures we can have strong foundation and become very strong in all areas. Thus, it is the duty of South Sudan Government to protect our cultures so that they change by adopting new values gradually to avoid cultural shock.

In South Sudan, we are currently experiencing cultural shock and it is the reason why there is upheaval and moral mayhem. Juba which is the capital city of South Sudan is microcosm of South Sudan as a country.

Juba represents South Sudan and its sixty four (64) tribes and whatever bad things happen in Juba depicts South Sudan as a whole. Hence, the fact that there is high level of moral decadent in Juba shows that Juba is the Centre of Moral decadent due to the following reasons:

First, immorality is at its highest point in Juba. . It is practiced everywhere and nowhere exceptional. Majority of our leaders in the Government who are supposed to be moral compass to show right moral direction to our citizens are even the worse in term of morality. They are in fact amoral.

As a sign of moral breakdowns, prostitution is being practiced everywhere in the citizens and hotels are turned into brothels. There are clearly two types of prostitutions. There are those petty prostitutes who can fall for even less then five hundred South Sudanese Pounds.

Those petty prostitutes are the ones we find everywhere in the city. They snake the streets throughout the city selling themselves like hot cakes. Those petty prostitutes are using their bodies to get money irrespective of the danger that they expose themselves to by attracting National and foreigners who may be hosts of different viruses carrying modern incurable diseases.

Those petty prostitutes are sometimes conwomen as they always fight with men who relieve their stress on them during short time as it is known in in the hotels managed by Eritreans and Ethiopians. This is throughout Juba city and other towns in South Sudan.

As I write this article, South Sudanese government does not have any control over her citizens who are women. Of course, women have all rights and freedoms to determine what is good for themselves but in the present condition of South Sudan, our women need protection because of poverty.

The poor are not choosers. Our women, majority of whom are impoverished and they can accept any conditions imposed on them by funders in order to get few pounds or few dollars to care for themselves or their families. Therefore, the men sometime demand to have sex with them live but they have nothing to do as they need money to support their families and themselves.

Moreover, those petty prostitutes are composed of underage girls, and grown up women, who are at homes with their men but are practicing prostitution under cover without the knowledge of their husbands. There was a time a fight broke out between the husband and his wife after the husband received intelligence that his wife was standing somewhere in town for short time.

After receiving the information he went to that place and found his wife where he was told to find her and the first world war in the prostitute world in Atlabara broker out. The poor was attacked on all sides and the police has to intervene to restore and maintain law and order.

Apart from those petty prostitutes as I have described above, there are also those smart prostitutes who charge hundreds of dollars per night. Some of these kind of prostitutes are women in their houses but are too smart to be caught by anyone. Some of these are running big companies and charitable organizations.

They are being founded by the Government officials with public funds. One of the reasons the Government employees and soldiers do not get their salaries on time even if they spend several months is because of misuse of National resources by the government officials. Another misuse is spending money on wrong project such as on prostitutes or unmarried women who act as side dish for big men.

Some of those smart prostitutes or women have broken their houses in order to professionalize their prostitution. Those professional prostitutes are now becoming more and more role models for our young beautiful girls who are occupied with how to become rich as a way of escaping sweat hard lives.

Selling their bodies is the cheapest way of getting money and becoming rich over night. Specially giving birth to or having a beautiful girls or wives who catch attention of every men appears to become a curse nowadays as the immoral men with dollars have become like hyenas around kraals. It is a tag of war.

Those beautiful girls described above have now come up with the new way of getting money from the government officials as they have become sexual rentals. The Government officials who were initially poor become restless with money rent those beautiful girls or women for some days or months and then give them dollars as agreed after using them. It is pathetic.

There are some immoral activities going in sexual world that cannot be described here all. Surprisingly, majority of all the prostitutes are from Dinka as I have been carrying out survey. Yet the Government, which is being headed by Dinka leadership does not want to do anything because it is preoccupied with how to maintain power even at the expenses of Dinka majority.

In short, Juba city is the centre of moral decadent. The Dinka family where the leader comes from and other families who are not taken care of by their governments are breaking down very first. The cause of all these is the man-made poverty through misuse of resources by the SPLM-IG that does not care about the welfare of the people by allowing its leaders to misuse National resources.

The unemployment the citizens are facing now and the poverty killing our citizens is because of the SPLM-IG that has controlled resources and allowed few individuals to use the resources as they think fit.

The writer is the member of the SPLM-IO and he can be reached through Nhomngekjuol@gmail.com

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this “Opinion Section” belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of The South Sudan Herald. Should you wish to submit your opinion piece or analysis, kindly contact us at: thessherald@gmail.com

S. Sudan spends zero percent (0%) on health services: report

Analysis released by the Oxfam International |Photo: Oxfam Intl

October 10, 2020 (Thessherald)–South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, spends zero percent on health services, according to a new report released on Friday by the Oxfam International.

“One of lowest health spending and only half their population covered by essential health services: a shocking two-thirds of citizens in South Sudan were not covered by essential health services.”

“Armed conflict and state fragility hinder governments’ commitment to fighting Inequality,” said Oxfam Pan Africa, an advocacy Programme seeking to reduce Inequality in the region.

The report exclusively obtained by the South Sudan Herald, ranked South Sudan 158th (Bottom) the lowest in Commitment to Reducing Inequality in the region.

The report highlights that the state spends 2.2% of the national budget on education – the lowest amount in the whole world on education.

The finding indicates that South Sudan’s civil servants are the lowest paid (57%) in the region.

“South Sudan is one of the few countries in the world with no minimum wage.”

Earlier this year, the UNICEF reported that some 2.2 million children in South Sudan lack access to quality education.

The analysis revealed that the South Sudanese government spends a substantial amount of money on debt serving and the military.

“Lowest spending on Index on social protection, health and education combined – just 12% -; instead it spends huge sums on debt servicing (47%) and the military (18%). In other words, more than 3 x on military and ed, SP and health combined.”

‘‘Governments must act now to end health & economic inequalities that are making the poorest people the worst hit by the pandemic. There’s an urgent need to invest in fairer, more resilient societies for us all,” said Peter Kamalingin, Oxfam Pan Africa Director.

The advocacy group said that “Sub-Saharan Africa has only 1 country (South Africa) in the top 50 in commitment to reducing inequality index and the continent accounts for 3 in 5 of the countries at the bottom of the list.”

China pledges to implement 2nd Phase Program on Education

Chinese Ambassador to S. Sudan, H.E Hua Ning discusses bilateral relations with South Sudan’s officials |Photo: File

Sept 28, 2020 (Thessherald)–The Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan, Hua Ning and the South Sudanese Minister of General Education and Instruction, Awut Deng Acuil have discussed bilateral relations between the two countries and agreed to implement the 2nd Phase Technical Cooperation Program on Education in the country.

“It’s a pleasant meeting with Hon.Minister of General Education Awut Acuil this morning.We are going to implement the Phase Two technical cooperation program on education after the successful completion of Phase One program,”

Hua Ning, Chinese Ambassador to South Sudan.

The Chinese Government reaffirms its readiness to produce textbooks for school-going children who have been deprived of education due to the conflict in the country.

“China will work with South Sudan to compile and produce textbooks on English, Mathematics and Science for Grade 2 to 8 students with the US$ 20m grant of Chinese Government. The program also includes training of school managers and teachers.”

The Chinese ambassador expresses his sadness after discovering a shortage of textbooks in some schools.

“Education is the most powerful investment in the country’s future. I am sad to learn in some schools, textbook ratios are around one textbook per 20 students.”

“We very much hope the situation will be improved through our joint efforts. As students will return to schools soon, it is essential to follow the health guidance of the government to ensure the health and safety of everybody.”

Gatwech Wuol Machar and Gatwech Gatluak Wang, two men who contributed effectively in society in education sector

 Opinion,By Lul Gatkuoth Gatluak

(Thessherald)–In everything we do, somehow, there are individuals who incredibly change the course of our lives. Such a change may come through verbal advice, encouragements or in form of teaching practical education.

One’s educational journey, did not start in early life, despite lack of physical development and ignoring the importance of education. Though one’s maternal uncles had acquired some basic literacy during one’s early childhood, realization of following their footsteps did not come quickly enough. The emulation of following their footsteps came after one’s teenage years. In early stage of that journey, both Gatwech Gatluak and Gatwech Wuol were among people who were one early education teachers.

In fact, Gatwech Gatluak Wang was the one who voluntarily taught this writer in first grade. Amicably, the author still remember some of his classmates by names, which included herein, Nhial Majiok, Ochan Pal Bie, Khor Guang loa, Riek Khat Marwang, Tang Dong Bukjiok, Ruey Yoa Yat, Taidor Tut Gach, Pal Tut Gai, Dobuol Khat Chuol Bol Pal Gatluak and many others. When Gatwech Gatluak passed his 8 grade examination with higher marks that qualified him to be sent for further studies by the United nations staff responsible for refugees educational programs, he told us,

“I am not going to leave you alone, I will talk to Gatwech Wuol and takeover your instruction.”

Gatwech Gatluak

At that particular period, Gatwech Would has just came back to Itang after he had completed his 12 grade diploma.

Without hesitation or quit pro quo, Gatwech Wuol agreed he will be our instructor. However, before Gatwech Wuol could started teaching, he suggested Seven Day Adventist church, which was located in Falang, must be located to Tharpam citing overcrowdness issue in Falang. That suggestion was not keenly welcomed by some church leaders.

Instantly, Evangelist Gatwech Lual Nyagoka and others reacted squarely against relocation of the church. His reaction resulted into a conference which was overwhelmingly attended by many if not all Seven Day Adventist members in both Itang and Gambella including Pastors Pal Panom and Chieng Chut.

However, such well attended conference didn’t solve the problem, given that people were divided in a point they didn’ want to pray under one roof. Some remained with Gatwech Lual in Falang and Gatwech Wuol moved with the rest to Tharpam. Majority of Gatwech Wuol supporters were students.

In a very short period of time after Gatwech had located to Tharpam, we established (Center Gatwech Wuol) together with him. Subsequently, he began teaching and arranged classes from one to three grade levels. This author and some of his colleagues whose names are mentioned above, were in the third grade which was the highest level at the time before we appealed that class levels must be raised up to the 6 grade.

During that early stage of Center Gatwech Wuol establishment, Gatwech was the one who teach all the classes until when he recruited more teachers some in Itang Secondary school and the rest within our classes.

Individuals like Tibang Lam, Lol Nyanyak, Chiech Bel, Kach Both, Khor Guang, and little Lam Chuol Thichuong, among others began to teach us eventhough we were in the same class with them. Khor Guang Guang in particular became our Math substitute teacher.

If anyone tried to question why Khor would teach us when we are in the same class with him, Gatwech regularly assured individuals that, Khor had already know enough Math and he is qualified to teach.

Beside shortage of teachers, Center Gatwech Wuol was also confronted by the lack of blackboards and chalk boards. We were using zinc that has been polished with flash light batteries.

One day, Gatwech started a conversation, he talked about how we can find blackboards for our classes. He told us we have one of our son who love to educate our society and that person is Simon Nipnip Reath, he said if he could find transportation fee, he would like to visit him.
By that time, Simon Nipnip was the chief administrator in Abobo. We suggested to him we must contribute money in all classes. Those in class one must contribute one Ethiopian Biry, two will contribute two and three will contribute three. The next day we brought all the money and Gatwech left for Abobo.

When he arrived there and met Simon Nipnip, Simon took him to school headquarter and call the meeting with teachers. After the meeting, Gatwech was given 6 blackboards together with countless chalks. Simon also wrote a letter that Gatwech should used to request more chalks once he ran out of what he brought from him.
After we had enough blackboards and chalks, more students joined the educational program and Center Gatwech Wuol, became one of the successful primary schools center which helped in educating students in Itang in 980s. Many individuals some of whom are now serving in various institutions, some are holding both undergraduate and graduate degrees, are produce of Gatwech Center.

As we continue to live, both Gatweches, will be greatly remembered as most influential role models for developing educational curriculum programs in Itang refugee camp. It is so unfortunate that, their precious life was cut short. May their soul continue to rest in eternity.