By Deng Machol
Juba, South Sudan – At least 1,300 students were graduated in different fields in the world youngest nation over the weekend, as the country is pursues a peace deal to end five-years of conflict.
The 22nd Convocation of the University of Juba was presided by the country’s president Salva Kiir, who described the event as another achievement and milestones in the country’s human capital, which is ruined by the years of conflict.
University of Juba was established in 1975 following the Addis Ababa peace agreement in 1972 in then Sudan.
“This is great additional to our human capital – and that the new face has begun from this important day as they look forward to join the world of works – where they are going to serve our people in the areas of theirs interested and expertise,” said Kiir
South Sudan split away from Sudan in 2011 after decades of war but plunged into its own conflict at the end of 2013 after president Salva Kiir sacked Riek Machar as vice president.
After years of brutal, president Kiir and ex – rebel leader Machar signed a new fragile revitalized peace deal a year ago to end a civil war that has killed hundreds of thousands of people, displaced a third of the population and wrecked the country’s economy.
South Sudanese warring parties to the peace agreement failed to form a coalition government on November 12, 2019 after disagreements over the training and unification of forces. The leaders also failed to resolve the issue of the boundary and the number of states.
The conflict has also tumble-down a job opportunity in both public and private sectors across the country.
As a result, President Kiir and Machar last week extended the pre-interim period by 100 days to enable them narrow their differences, but president Kiir believe that with the formation of a unity government next year, will create a job opportunity for the graduates in the country.
“I am optimistic that the unity government will be formed early in the new year to allow our country to move forward as one nation. And then our collective energy to economy and social development – peace will allow us to mobilize more resources to provide better education and health services. Moreover, will enable us to rebuild the infrastructure in form whether roads, provide clean drinking water and electricity to our cities, towns and countryside and connected the nation through high speed fabric optics network,” he said.
President Kiir also says “as the country, we are opened to the investment in agriculture, mineral resources, oil and tourism, among others which will definitely create job opportunities for our able youth, particularly to graduates and enable to deliver needed services to the people of South Sudan.’
Meanwhile, Chairman of the University’s Council, Manase Lomule Waya urged the graduands to put their papers in use as job creators and not job seekers.
Waya further asked the NGOs and private companies to employ South Sudanese graduates, citing a setback to the world youngest nation if the said human resource is not put into action.
“The graduates from the university of Juba have to and must be employed in order to reduce the level of unemployment in the country,” said Waya.
On the same event, representative of the graduands, Jacob Kuot said they faced a lot of challenges as a journey was too long, which some of his colleagues dropped out of the university.
He told president to create job opportunities for the graduates so that they will not join politics in the restive country.
“Mr. president, we have thousands of youth, graduates’ loitering on the streets – some of our wasting much of our time in tea places, playing cards, dominoes and Facebook [social media] – this is where of our youth spend usual time to build themselves – [and] that is why some of us join politics by all means as the last resort. Our situation here invited every youth to be politicians and talks about politics.
my appeal to the government is to creating more jobs for youth, especially graduates in the public and private sectors for you to coming out of learning institution, at least to get a job,” said Kuot
Multiple of graduands said they will usher their knowledges to rebuild the war – torn country in their specialized areas, but this will not be effective if the government don’t employ them in all sectors.
Exodus of University lecturers
The Vice Chancellor of the University of Juba has warned concerned government institutions of industrial action over delay in implementation of the new salary structure for lecturers.
In July, the Council of Ministers approved a new salary structure for all the public university lecturers.
The increment came after years of public outcry over little pay for lecturers since the Pound lost its value and the economy worsened.
“The delay of the implementation of the new salary structure threatens the academic stability of our public universities with mass exodus of the staff of worse of an upset of industrial action,” Prof. John Akech said during the 22nd Graduation Ceremony of the University of Juba at the weekend.
However, President Kiir says his government is committed to implementing the new salary structure for all the public universities.
“I will invest in our universities so that they produce the best civil servants and work for what our country needs and that is why my government is committed to implement a new salary structure for the staff at our public universities,” said president Kiir. “We will review and improve the pay structure of the top and mid-level civil servants so that our civil servants are free to devote their whole time to serving the country and creating public value without worrying much about their basic daily needs and that of their families.”
According to the approved salary structure, a professor would be paid over 500,000 SSP ($1,500) and a technician would earn over 100,000 SSP ($500) per month. This is a significant increase from the current structure where a professor earns an equivalent of $153 per month.
However, more lecturers have allegedly quit the profession due to the little – with some seen driving public service vehicles in the capital, Juba, as a new means of catering for their families.
Recently, President Kiir blamed salary payment delays on the ministry finance and economic planning.
Civil servants have not been paid for months despite daily oil production. According to the ministry of petroleum, the government roughly gets $165 million per month from oil sales.
Establish of institute
President Kiir his government will establish the petroleum institute of technology and applied sciences in order to build human resource to utilize the petroleum resources.
“I want to assure the university of Juba administration that my government is still committed to supporting the establishment of Petroleum institute of technology and Applied Science at the University of Juba. Whose mission is to utilized petroleum resources, to develop and embrace the national technological and managerial capacity for exploitation of our vast natural resources,” said president Kiir
The landlock country gets almost all its revenue from oil and has boosted output, as it struggles to rebuild its devastated economy after a five-year civil war.
South Sudan has the third-largest oil reserves in sub – Saharan Africa, estimated at 3.5 billion barrels and much more still remains unexplored.