By James Atem Kuir
The Upper Nile University (UNU) Malakal’s campus and Malakal Vocational Training Center were set to resume operations as the two institutions undergone renovation after seven years of closure due tothe 2013conflict.
The University was subsequently relocated to Juba where it was in operation as a result of the onslaughts between government and opposition forces.
The educational facilities were renovated by United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)following an agreement in 2019 with the Government of Japanto provide funding for restoration of the facilities vandalized during the years of the civil war.
On Thursday, a delegation from Juba comprised of officials from the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology and the Ministry of Labour and Human Resource Development, Turkish embassy, UNDP and UNMISS travelled to Malakal to launch the newly renovated facilities.
Addressing the gathering at UNU during the launch which also marked the handing over of the facility by UNDP to the government, Samuel G. Doe, UNDP Resident Representative, saidthe resumption of UNU would support economic recovery of Upper Nile state.
“The operation of Upper Nile University is expected to spur economic recovery in the state and Malakal town in particular,” Mr. Samuel Doe said, stressing other benefits of the institution to the Upper Nile population including promotion of tolerance, peace and solidary as well asnation building.
The restoration projected of UNU withfunding from the government of Japan targeted administration blocks, lecture halls, teachers and students’ accommodations, library and among others.
“I am the happiest person today after receiving Upper Nile University back from UNDP. The 2013 war disrupted the lives of our people including the universities. This university became a displaced institution and we are accommodated in Juba. We thank the Japanese government and its people for providing funds to renovate the university, and the UNDP for restoring the structures of the university. It is now time to think about relocating back to Malakal,” said Prof. Marial Awou Yol the Vice Chancellor of Upper Nile University at the launch on Thursday.
Upper Nile State Governor Budhok Ayang who attended the handing over ceremony with a number of his cabinet ministers said, “The people of Upper Nile state were happy for thefinal completion of renovation works on the university. The university was few steps from returning to its original place. He said that they were extremely happy for that remarkable occasion.The governor also strongly advised security forces to protect the facilities of the university against further vandalism.
Turkish Ambassador to South Sudan, Erdem Matuf who spoke during the occasion vowed his government would continue support to the higher education sector through funding and granting of scholarship for South Sudanese students.
Meanwhile the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) Head of Malakal Field Office, Leda Limann hailed the coming back to live of the two education institutions as way to bring life back to Malakal which hadbeen deserted to due to war.
Gabriel Changson Chang, the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology said that the university would start relocating to Malakal with year-one students in the coming months once budget for facilitation of their return approved.
“We don’t have a definite date of relocating the students and the administration back,but we hope by November or December, we will bring the first year students. We have submitted the budget of 50 million US dollars to facilitate the relocation of the university from Juba,” said Chang.
James Hoth Mai, the Minister of Labour and Human Resource Development hailed the renovation of Upper Nile University and Malakal VTCas restoration for economic prosperity. Hoth said that the two institutions would equip the local population with technical skills that would enable them generate income.
“I see Malakal will be booming again. There is high demand of (skilled people) in the markets,”
Minister Hoth assured the Malakal population of the benefits they would gain from the facilities. He stressed that the government was committed to embark on skills training of youth across the country.