Ministry criticized for barring exams in opposition areas

By Chany Ninrew

Civil Society Organizations and some members of the public have condemned a decision made by the Minister of General Education and InstructionsAwut Deng Achuil barring primary 8 pupils who are in SPLM-IO controlled areas from sitting for exams.

On Thursday Minister Achuil announced in a press release that the National Examination Council will not deliver exams to primary 8 pupils in some opposition controlled areas citing security threat to the examiners and credibility of the examination.

The decision was announced only four days before the commencement of national exams.

“It is important for me to underscore that in this year 2020/2021 examination cycle, a lot of stringent security measures have been devised and put in place to curb malpractices in the examination and to ensure the security of examination, examinees and examiners,” partly read the press statement.

The Minister claimed that most parts of SPLM-IO controlled areas of Jonglei and Upper Nile states are a possible security threat to the South Sudan Examination Council.

Manifested in the press release is an allegation of previous detention of staff contracted by the Ministry of Education to distribute teachers’ incentives in NyirolCounty, an opposition held area.

But when contacted to comment on the issue, Wani Michael who is the Founder and Director of Okay Africa Foundation condemned the decision as a violation of the constitutional mandate of guaranteeing every child’s right to education.

“It is important for the minister to understand that article 29 of the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan guarantees every child a right to education and especially free education,

“We cannot afford to deny and discriminate these children basic education because they are under a different area controlled by the SPLA-IO which is part of the same government,” he said.

However, theExecutive Director for Foundation for Democracy and Accountable Governance Jame David Kolok termed the decision as unfortunate.

“We are deeply disturbed by communication from the Minister of General Education, the decision to deny examination for children under the SPLM-IO controlled areas is a very unfortunate decision that we are not happy with as civil society, this decision seems to be made in a divisive and a partisan manner,” said Kolok.

Kolok, who is also a signatory to the peace agreement, said the decision is unjustified. He advises that the matter should be looked into as a national issue and not a political issue.

“I urge the Minister to approach this kind of situation from a national lens other than from a party lens because issues to do with national examinationshave nothing to do with SPLM-IO or government or SSOA, these are national examinations and any decision should not be made in a manner that segregates,” he said.

In another note, WanyBuom, the leader of Lou NuerTriple Alliance, a youth association of the areas affected urged for withdrawal of the decision.

“The Minister of Education should not bring politics into examinations, all we want is for our kids to have equal access to education because they are equal in the eye of God as well as under the supreme law of South Sudan,” he said.

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