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Juba University improves learning environment amidst challenges

By: Kitab A Unango

The administration of the University of Juba, formerly a girls’ secondary school turned higher public institution of learning in 1975, is set to improve its learning environment to attract more learners.

The 45 year old biggest government learning institution, originally meant to accommodate less than 300, currently has about 16 000 students, which results into increased demand for more leaning facilities to cater for the overwhelming number.

Poor and inadequate lecture halls, hygiene facilities as well as lack of enough modern books are among the challenges the administration is struggling to improve to accomplish its set attractive.

Despite high number of students and lack of funding, the administration of Vice Chancellor, John Akech, says the university’s physical infrastructure has to be improved to make learning attractive.

Dr. Mairi John Blackings, Academic Registrar says the administration has set a number of objectives to advance learning environment to the overwhelming numbers of students.

“We set ourselves a number of things that we want to achieve. There is renovation of the University, and remember the university was a girls’ secondary school and the number of students have exploded, we have about 16 000,” said Dr. Mairi.

“We want to improve the physical environment of the University to make it conducive. If the physical environment is conducive, learning will be attractive and students will love to stay around.”

“Secondly, as a higher institution of learning, we want to live by example and we want to show the country that things can be done. We do not have funding for this, all the funding we raised is from students’ tuition fees. We do not have extra funding, he said.

However, Students say books, as repository for information, and enough lecture halls are the biggest challenges to their learning journey though the university’s physical appearance has already been improved.

They say accessing information in the University’s main Library is difficult due to inadequate books in the University’s main Library. They find it very hard to access information because most books are outdated and irrelevant to current topics being taught.

“There are few modern books available in the library. Some students are now hiding books. They take them out from their right place on the shelves and put somewhere, where they can come and find anytime they need,” Martin John, a fourth student said.

He added. “I don’t visit the library nowadays because if I go I will not get the book I need. I search web sites for information and it is very expensive for some of us who are from poor family background.”

A first year student of Natural Resources, without mentioning his name says, “They told me if I want to get the book I want, I should go to the library and search for it in the section of social science’s shelves. Sometimes I could search and even fail to get.”

Dr. Mairi said the institution lacks fund to import books, which is supposed to be yearly to meet student’s information need.

 “We are only facing lack of hard currency to import books. Otherwise the physical infrastructure of the literary has completely improved. We have done a lot of renovation there,” Mairi told Juba Monitor in an exclusive interview in his office yesterday.

He added. “Books are to be bought every year. We need to keep updating books, there are new editions of books coming every year but we are finding difficulties to keep up with that, we don’t have resources. Books are very expensive.”

George Boyo, a fourth year student calls on the administration and librarians to ensure books are placed in their right section so that they can be easily accessed.

“It is really a challenge especially to students like me who are looking for information for their final year research. The administration of the University should monitor and ensure books are in the correct locations on the shelves.

“You find that science books like physics are taken to social science section and put among unrelated books are taken,” Boyo says.

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