By Ngor Arol Garang
May 3, 2012 (MALAKAL) - South Sudan has pledged to implement a policy to improve the country’s education system the Minister of Higher Education said on Wednesday.
- South Sudanese school children (BBC/Simon Murphy)
Minister Peter Adwok Nyaba made the remarks live on the South Sudan Television and Radio (SSTV), shortly after participating in a workshop bringing together stakeholders drawn from various higher learning institutions across South Sudan.
The workshop attracted participants from public institutions such as the universities of Juba, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile, Bahr el Ghazal, Rumbek and the University of Dr. John Garang as well as private higher learning institutions.
Speaking at the meeting, Nyaba said the Ministry of Education will improve the quality of higher and tertiary education and training. He explained that higher and tertiary education will cover Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), professional education, university education, as well as research education in South Sudan.
Nyaba explained that TVET is a unique system that caters for the training in technical, vocational knowledge and skills from apprenticeships to managerial levels, as enshrined in the Transitional Constitution of the Republic of South Sudan and Skills Qualification Framework.
He disclosed that the ministry will establish a Higher Education Observatory (HEO) body together with the National Training Authority (NTA) in order to standardise, validate, and accredit higher education programmes. He also disclosed that the sector shall organise working sessions to review quarter reports of all the main tertiary institutions.
Minister Nyaba also spoke about the Ministry’s commitment to setting up a team that will be tasked with monitoring the integration.
“It is vital to build institutional and individual capacities in order to attain the critical mass of researchers in the country and tertiary education institutions to ensure their adherence to policies and procedure”, said Nyaba
Adding his voice, the minister of general education, Joseph Ukel, expressed his concern over the great gender disparity that exists in South Sudanese education. He also observed that a large number of higher and tertiary education institutions are concentrated around the urban areas.
A report released in April by the UK’s ex-prime minister, Gordon Brown, revealed that of the countries for which data is available, South Sudan has the worst level of secondary education enrolment. Also, less than five percent of girls in South Sudan complete primary education; and in some parts of the country there are 200 students to every teacher.
The development of the South Sudanese education system has been fraught with challenges. In July 2011 one of the world’s leading publishers of English Language teaching and school curriculum materials, Macmillan Education, was fined US$11.7 million for bribing government officials to secure contracts.
After more than two decades of civil war, woeful under-investment under the former rule of Khartoum and statehood achieved only last year, much of South Sudan’s infrastructure is in urgent need of development.