Education is for everyone including the poor
By Ngor Khot Garang
The recent incident which led to a temporary closure of the country’s oldest learning institution explains in its best terms the situation of South Sudanese and it also points fingers to the elites and those who put every South Sudanese in the same social strata. Many prominent figures have on several occasions being noted on several media platforms asserting without any iota of shame that education is not for the poor which is why we are still going to be poor for the rest of our lives.
But where in the world is this saying applicable? There were many poor countries that made their way out through education and though they still have poor people it is not like when majority of their people were uneducated and the same thing is the wish of everyone for South Sudan with the exception of few who still line behind the saying that education is for the rich. It is okay for them but how many people are rich in South Sudan if not those who are prospering on the backs of poor South Sudanese?
There is nobody not even those people who are in support of the saying that education is for the rich can deny that people are not poor. The poverty in which we found ourselves is known to be manmade and those who say that education is not for the poor should and must be blamed for the poverty we are in because they know what they are talking about. It is true that we are poor but that does not make lazy people. We are not thieves and when I say this, I mean the struggling majority. We are the hardest working people around and this is evidenced by single women and young men who struggle on daily basis to make ends meet only to end up in disappointment because hard work doesn’t pay in South Sudan.
And if you are not sure with what I’m saying, please take a look at the poor women and young men whose sun rests on their backs working hard and their labor doesn’t pay and shift your attention to men who are making dollars they didn’t sweat for in government offices and contrast the difference and the current situation of South Sudan. Who is really not poor in South Sudan, the one plundering public funds and a poor woman whose work is to sell tomatoes to earn a living?
I think that we are all poor and we all deserve the rights to go to school because if we can’t go to school, who then will change our educational system? We have seen enough of what ignorance has cost us despite the PhDs we have. There is need to make education affordable if the government cannot make it free because the only way they can pay long serving soldiers who dedicated most of their lives for the liberation of this country is to make education cheaper or free for their children. But if there are some respected people who are still in support of the saying that education is for the rich and the poor should not waste their time trying to put in shoes they cannot fit in, then this means something different to soldiers and it could even best explain why soldiers are not paid well.
Just imagine, let me put myself in a shoe of a soldier, and I’m given SSP 1,200 as my salary and I’m asked to wait for more 5 months for another 1200 and before I understand why I’m treated this way in a country that lost one of my legs, my son or daughter is asked to pay money 20 times my salary. Folks, if you were one, what will you think if you were a soldier or a widow? This is why most of the people commit suicide. And it is one of their greatest regret to having fought for this country as some of them did not get a chance to go to school simply because they wanted their kids to have a bright future in their own land and now the learning institution is saying that if they cannot afford the fees, they are at liberty to go home and leave rooms for those whose parents are financially buoyant. And this is the price they are forced to pay. This is heartbreaking and I thought our government must understand what people are going through and the economic hardship. There was need to make education accessible to all and the sundry because education is the only way out. We cannot claim to be an independent country when educational system favors some few individuals and expect to do well at the international level. The government must come up with a strategy to address this tuition fees crisis.