Opinion

Peace and Education

“We need peace and education; we need our rights!” These were the words expressed by our primary school children who participated in the peace demonstration organized by the Episcopal Church in the morning of Thursday 29th September, 2017 in Juba. The author had an opportunity to stand by the roadside, near Al Shabah Children Hospital, as our hungry and hopeless but enthusiastic, brave and patriotic children danced and sang loudly the words: “we need peace and education; we need our rights”. The stress put on these words, peace, education and rights caught the sight and attention of the author.

With perhaps diminished hopes and extremely little energies in their worn out bodies, our children came out openly to demand peace, education and many other rights of the children entrenched in the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan. Indeed by demanding peace and education, the children have expressed the greatest challenge to the governance capability of the ruling elites, who the author believes, will tactically ignore and suppress, as usual, the voices of peace, truth and reason emanating from the impoverished grassroots.

The ruling elites appear to have chosen a long-term geopolitical strategy of accumulating power and resources in their hands without paying any little attention to the social, political, economic and cultural needs of the suffering majority citizens, many of which have silently perished, and the surviving ones are severely traumatized by inability to cope up with the escalating insecurity and fast deteriorating economy that has reached the highest peak of hyperinflation never experienced in the modern world.

Why do the ruling elites amass power and resources? Strategically, the elites want to protect themselves against accountability for misgoverning the country and creating conditions that make attainment of peace, unity, stability and consensus not only difficult, but appears unattractive. In particular, they fear mostly the transitional justice process stipulated in the ARCSS. Secondly, the ruling elites have, no doubt, succeeded to create a “power monopoly clique” with its replicated branches at the lower levels of government. This instituted clique will be inherited by their children receiving superior education abroad compared to majority children of the oppressed citizens, who are learning in unstable environment characterized by constant violence, hunger, famine, diseases, salaries delay, unmotivated teachers, poor learning conditions, shortage of textbooks and a great deal of other unfavourable factors.

Education is power. Having equipped their children with quality education, the power monopolists thought they have made the wisest decision on earth that safeguards them and gives their children overwhelming competitive power over the majority children receiving poor and incredible education in the country. Such competitive advantage will be used to justify the inheritance and concentration of power in the hands of the children of the power monopolists. This is an extremely elusive thinking which is contrary to God’s plans. One day, God will make decisions intended to jeopardize the wellbeing of the vulnerable children backfire on the architects and their children living luxuriously in the foreign countries.

The author earnestly forwards an appeal to power monopoly clique to come to its senses and immediately abandons discriminative policies aimed at spoiling or minimizing the educational opportunities of the children of the majority suffering citizens. Children, whether that of the power monopolists or that of the majority disadvantaged groups, are future leaders of our staggering nation; they should be accorded equal treatment in terms of education so that they become peace and nation builders in the future. Education equips a child with peace skills that enable her/him lives peacefully and nonviolently with others.

The best interest of the child is the right to education; the right to be protected against abduction and trafficking; the right to life, survival, and development; the right to a name and nationality; the right to know and to be cared for by her/his parents or legal guardians; the right not to be subjected to exploitative practices or abuse, nor to be required to serve in the army nor permitted to perform work which may be hazardous or harmful to her/his education, health or well-being; the right to be free from discrimination, corporal punishment and cruel and inhuman treatment by any person including parents, school administrations and other institutions; and the right not to be subjected to negative and harmful cultural practices which affect her/his health, welfare or dignity [Transitional Constitution of South Sudan: Article 17 (1) (2) (3)].

If the author were one of the power holders or were able to gain access to power at our national government, he would work harder and harder to realize the best interest of our frustrated and demoralized children. Brothers, sisters, mothers, and friends, the power monopolists, let us have a collective responsibility towards education of our children just in the same way our patriotic fathers, Anyanya One freedom fighters did in the aftermath of the first liberation war that came to an end through Addis Ababa Peace Agreement of 1972.

We praise the Anyanya One liberators for showing nationalistic spirit that brought the majority citizens, including the author and the power monopolists, to levels of education they are enjoying today. This is the truth. We pray to almighty God to rest the souls of our gallant Anyanya One freedom fighters in eternal peace for sharing the liberation dividends with their people! Amen.

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