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Thursday, July 31, 2014

South Sudan Science Education Suffers with the War

By Esther Nakkazi 

As the South Sudan crisis continues to unfold, many students, universities and growth in the area of science continues to be affected. While many expatriates and civilians have fled, schools have closed and higher institutions of learning have relocated to neighbouring countries like Uganda.

Scientific growth of the country has stagnated as human resource in this area like all other people cannot continue with their work. Although some humanitarian Organisations most of them with scarce resources are holding on, they too are finding it difficult to do their work with the ongoing war.

One of them, Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF), an international medical humanitarian organisation that has been working in some regions of South Sudan since 1983, has documented children suffering from shocking rates of malnutrition, malaria and dying of preventable diseases. Cholera has also hit South Sudan now.

According to MSF, at the height of this conflict, their teams were treating at least 45 critically ill patients each day of mostly preventable diseases like watery diarrhoea, malaria and respiratory infections. Risks of break out of epidemics is looming everywhere.

Displaced and wounded people are living under terrible living conditions and institutions, which would have served them have been destroyed. Roads are impassable due to the conflict.

Although the South Sudanese people first fled because of the fighting with time they also left because of food shortages, observes MSF. Students have abandoned school while some institutions have relocated.

The Upper Nile University (UNU) has since relocated to Juba while the International Christian Medical and Dental Association (ICMDA) with its 51 students has relocated to Uganda and classes are on going at Mengo Hospital. The John Garang Memorial University has also since relocated its students to Juba.

William Ater Aciek, the National Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, says the current crisis has affected budget as well as teachers and school attendance. Institutions have been forced to shut down or relocate.

"We would wish all our children go to school. The slow down is very high and has affected many institutions. Student enrolment has also been affected by these factors,” he said.

In South Sudan a teacher is paid less than three hundred South Sudanese Pounds (less than one hundred US Dollars in equivalence) per month. with the raging civil war the morale of the teachers has also been affected.

“How do you expect a qualified teacher to remain in education?" he questioned.

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