By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
August 15, 2013 (BENTIU) - The new education minister in South Sudan’s Unity state, Peter Gai Joak, says he will work to improve the proliferation of quality education for all children in the nine counties of the state.
Joak, who was the former commissioner of Payinjiar county, said he appreciated being offered the job by caretaker governor, Joseph Nguen Monytuel, after he predecessor Angelo Chol Dong Wei was relieved from the post.
He told the almost 20 directors from different departments at the ministry on Thursday that education is the priority that will help address the ongoing insecurity in the state since South Sudan became independent two years ago.
Only 27% of South Sudan’s population can read and write with most people’s livelihoods dependent on agriculture and cattle. Much of the violence between communities in South Sudan is related to cattle raiding between rival neighboring groups.
Minister Joak said that education should be South Sudan’s priority in terms of nation building and addressing insecurity.
“Since I was a former commissioner who was serving in this state, I have never heard any teacher going for cattle raiding. Why is it not happening? Because they were educated and they know very well they are one country citizens”, said Joak.
He accentuated the need for South Sudanese to be unified in order to progress as a nation.
South Sudan’s poor economic and social cohesion has in the past been caused by a weak education system that has failed to prepare people for employment.
The minister says he will study the whole ministry for a month and has asked each department to provide a comprehensive report about the challenges they face in order to inform his future decisions about education in Unity state.
Joak warned civil servants that they must work hard and not take government money without performing the tasks that have been assigned to them.
“I will not remove you if I find you doing great work, but I will have trouble with you when I learn you do not carry out your duties amicably” added the education minister on Thursday.
Joak told all the ministry’s staff that they should feel free to contact him at any time. He urged the staff to join hands with him to create a better education system for all people of Unity state.