December 7, 2013 (RUMBEK) - Students from South Sudan’s Lakes state studying at various universities and colleges in Uganda have been forced to dropout while others have had personal belongings confiscate by hostel managers due to rent arrears.
Students complain that the state’s military caretaker Governor Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol has suspended their grants, causing the disruption to their studies.
Juol Nhomngek, the vice chairperson of Lakes Youth Union, one of the students affected, criticised decision to withdraw funding as "unwise and selfish", adding that it undermine the future of a generation of young South Sudanese.
"The hostile and arbitrary suspension of our salaries four months ago by the Caretaker Governor of Lakes State General Matur Cut has had a profound negative impact on our life in school."
Sebit Reec, another of the students affected said that "fourteen students are being detained in hostels or [having their] personnel belongings being detained by hostel managers."
He added that the majority of students had failed to sit their exam and described the situation as a "mess" that the governor and South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir were responsible for.
Nhomngek said that some students had already given up pursuing their studies because they are enable to pay their fees and other requirements.
"Some of the hostels where students are residing have detained laptops and other valuable items for those students due to the delay of payment of the hostel rental fees by them," he said.
He said that he was on of many students who may not be able to sit their exams at the end of this month.
Vice chairperson Nhomngek, said that governor Dhuol’s decision to not release the funds was contradictory the ruling SPLM’s policy of promoting and encouraging education.
"The action of the caretaker governor is directly infringing on our right education provided for under Article 29 of the Transitional Constitution of 2011 of the Republic Of South Sudan."
Nhomngek pointed out that suspending their funds was contrary to an agreement the students had signed in which they would all return and work for the South Sudanese government for at least two years after graduation.
The student leader called on Lakes state and the government of South Sudan "to respect our rights to education." He also called on the ruling SPLM to intervene in the dispute.
This is not the first time Dhuol has been at odds with the student and youth unions from Lakes state.
Lakes state since his inception into Lakes state leadership, he work at odd with students and youth union in Lakes state. In October Lakes state’s student union accused the governor of preventing from holding an event in Rumbek. This was denied by the government.