July 18, 2014 (KAMPALA) – South Sudanese students at various higher education institutions have complained that ongoing conflict in the country has become a huge obstacle to continuing their studies.
Many students say they have been forced to drop out of their studies after they fled to neighbouring countries such as Uganda.
Gai Bona Thoar, a former third year student from Juba University, said the war had destroyed his future prospects.
He said reaching Uganda had been an enormous financial strain and he now lacked the funding to continue his education.
“My plan was to get knowledge so that I can apply [it] to my country and serve my people, but now the problem [is] there is no funds where I can get the skills which I need,” said Thoar.
Thoar says he was forced to flee to Uganda for his own safety after the war erupted in South Sudan in mid-December last year after a political split in the ruling SPLM turned violent.
He says he is not optimistic about the chances for lasting peace in the country, but has urged the international community and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which has been overseeing the mediation process, to exert more pressure on the warring parties to reach a peaceful resolution.
“I’m hoping for peace, but am blaming IGAD because they are not serious. They cannot take so long while people are dying,” he said.
He said IGAD must take measures to bring the conflict to an end in the next month, saying sanctions must be imposed on those that resist the peace process.
Angelo Bol Chuol, a former student in public administration at Bhar el Ghazal University, who is now in Uganda, said he would be willing to continue his studies, but lacks the financial support.
“Now in Uganda if I get a chance I can even continue with the school,” he said.
“If I get a school here then later I will even do something better to our communities there in South Sudan,” he added.
Peter Nhial Hoth, a former student from Upper Nile University in Malakal says he was study financial accounting, but is now enrolled in the same course at Uganda’s Cavendish University.
Hoth said he had planned to complete his university studies at home, but the war has pushed him to study in a foreign country.
“My future plan was to complete university and come out from university and contribute success to the nation and help; this is my future planning for [the] nation and the South Sudan,” said Hoth.
Hoth says he hopes to see stability restored in his country, doubts whether lasting peace can be achieved while the government continues to acquire more weapons.
He blames the president’s reluctance to end the conflict for the continued suffering of the South Sudanese people.
“The president himself is not committed to bring[ing] peace back and stability to the country because he himself is now providing arms while he [is] saying he is the one to commit him[self] to bring peace back to the country,” he said.
“The president is buying arms outside the country to fight, [but] who fights for the rights of [the] people,” Hoth added.
Many students who have dropped out of South Sudanese universities and colleges as a result of the conflict say their parents have now taken up arms against the government, while others relatives who were helping pay school fees have been killed, leaving them without any financial means to continue their education.