Opinion

Education is power

Education is the only solution to end the conflict in the youngest Nation. This is because illiteracy is one of the factors that had led to the current situation in the country where innocent citizens are being killed while others struggle with famine.

I would say bravo to the University of Juba for graduating over 1,305 students who pursued studies to acquire diploma, bachelor, and masters in different colleges. The thrilling question is; where will these students go after the completion? Will they get jobs with the crisis in this country?

“Education is very, very important for peace. If you are educated you will be able to know what peace is, you will be able to educate people about reconciliation, forgiveness and coming together to solve problems,” said Wandera, who hopes that education will stave off further conflict in the country.

For our country to overcome conflict; there is need for sustainable education, because somebody who is educated will know what is right and wrong and will embrace love for one another through peace and unity.

Indeed, we should come together, surrender the guns and focus on learning in the country. The war and political upheavals in the country has had an inevitable impact on education – almost three-quarters of adults in the world’s newest country are unable to read or write. A recent report by the Overseas Development Institute (ODI) holds that less than 2 percent of the population has completed a primary school education.

“South Sudan is believed to have the worst literacy rate in the world, worse than Mali and Niger, which were the only ones close, according to the latest statistics we have from 2009,” said Jessica Hjarrand, education specialist at the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

The 2005 peace deal paved the way for South Sudan to secede from the north in July 2011. The country has since struggled to build an education system for its young and to educate the millions of adults who missed out on school during the war.

As a result, the quality of instruction is poor, Hjarrand continued. “They don’t know how to manage a classroom. They don’t know how to manage people with different needs in the classroom, let alone the content area and the skills you’re supposed to be passing down through education.”

“There are no enough schools. There are certainly no enough teachers,” said Hjarrand. “Most of the teachers in South Sudan are primary school leavers.”

Complicating matters is the fact that South Sudan has decided to switch from offering instruction in Arabic, which is associated with the north, to teaching in English – a challenge for most teachers and students.

But even after the influx of international donations, the country’s school system does not yet have the resources to keep up with demand. A report by the South Sudan office of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) says that 70 percent of children between six and 17 years old have never set foot inside a classroom, and that only one in 10 children complete primary school.

“We have very many disadvantaged children, dropouts during the war, those who lost their parents, those who were taken as child soldiers… Later on they decided to come back to learn. These reasons made me open this centre to accommodate them,” he said.

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