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Disputes emerge over S. Sudanese students’ fees in Uganda

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March 26, 2014 (KAMPALA) – A row has erupted over the proposed registration fees for South Sudanese students in Uganda, with the union leader denying the exercise was linked to its Kampala embassy.

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South Sudanese students at their embassy in Kampala, Uganda (ST/File)

In a phone interview with Sudan Tribune, Nin Tut, clarified that each student was only required to pay Ushs 5,000 (about $2), not 15,000 (about $6).

“The interest of registering of South Sudanese students in Uganda in different colleges and universities was to know the statistics of new [student] and those who have completed their studies for easy facilitation by government find them jobs and support,” he said.

Tut urged students to avoid disputes over these fees.

Early this year, the students’ union leader said he held meetings with the different heads of universities and colleges at Bugema university over the proposed fees, which they agreed to pay.

“After a meeting, they agreed the 5,000 shillings would be registration fees, but the head of each colleges and Universities would top up another 10,000 shilling to make 15,000,” he said.

Last year, at least 17,000 South Sudanese were reportedly studying in 50 colleges and 32 universities in Uganda. The students are also supported by South Sudan government and its education ministry.

Tut claimed no support had been given to these students since he assumed office.

"During the time of Mayar who acted as the president of South Sudanese students union, a student from college used to receive $500 and a university student received $1000", he said, adding the funding has been on hold since he rose to the helm of the student body.

"It is in the interest of the government of who led the students union and had popularity with office of president in South Sudan", said Tut, when asked why the funding was halted.

A student, only identified as JJ, said he knew the registration exercise by South Sudanese students’ union was done in collaboration with its embassy in Uganda.

"I did not see the use of 15,000 shilling for each student registration meanwhile there is ongoing conflict in South Sudan, which made most students vulnerable to paying school fees" he said.

"We demand the students’ union representative to give an explanation on this fee demanded and clarify where the money will go and how it is going to be used, because this will discourage most of the students not to register with the union", he added.

In 2012, the office of the student’s union president failed to account for huge sums of money allegedly spent without proper accountability given to the members.

"We need to learn to be responsible and accountable because we believe that school is a place of transformation. We need to be transformed from our old antiquity and become good future citizens of South Sudan,” partly reads a students’ petition seen by Sudan Tribune.

“The union or the embassy bears the right of knowing the number of its students in Uganda but not that way. And if the union demand some support to run the office, it has to be clearly explained. Some people came from rich families and other not, they don’t understand how others struggle to get money and pay their tuition fee", it added.

At Cavendish University, for instance, students reportedly opposed payment of the fees, calling on the leadership of the students’ union to explain why they needed it.

(ST)

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