By Isaac Vuni
April 15, 2009 (JUBA) – St. Mary’s University of Juba was inaugurated today by the Government of Southern Sudan’s state Minister of Gender, Social Welfare and Religious Affairs, Mary Kiden Kimbo.
The university is the second private one in the capital of southern Sudan, and funding has just come at an opportune time through a multi-donor fund, disclosed Kimbo, when southerners are in real need of social workers to handle the estimated 50,000 disabled persons in southern Sudan.
The Catholic Church in Sudan has played a role in education in both the North and South, even educating some key political figures including Sadiq al-Mahdi.
“Ignorance would be more expensive to eradicate than poverty, the father of chronic diseases in southern Sudan,” said Kiden officiating at the inauguration on behalf of President Salva Kiir Mayardit.
According to Catholic regulation, His Grace Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro automatically becomes the Vice Chancellor of the university.
Today, Minister Kimbo thanked the church official for being a staunch supporter of the people’s movement during time of unrest and in time of peace by providing relief, health care and now education to all without discrimination.
She emphasized that one can be come a good and law-abiding citizen by getting off rid of ignorance.
Last year GOSS awarded certificates of honour to the late Fr. Saturnino Lohure Ilangi, Archbishop Paulino Lokudu Loro, Bishop Paride Taban, Bishop Makram Maxes, Bishop Caesar Mazzolari, Bishop Nathaniel Garang of the Episcopal Church in Sudan (ECS), Bishop Joseph Marona of ECS, , Manasi Dawidi Binyi of ECS, Levi Hassan of ECS and Wilson Arop of ECS amongst many others.
Archbishop Paulino Lukudu Loro said that according to Catholicism, priests should be educated through the university level as they are to serve different people of the world and expressed appreciation for the funding and building of the second private higher-education institution in Juba.
He appealed to donors not to abandon the archdiocese at the very beginning of the university, urging all southerners to be responsible in nursing this institution to become the best of its kind.
Speaking on behalf of the Central Equatoria State Governor, a state minister lauded the Catholic Church for positive achievement in the field of developing human resources in Southern Sudan, where many had missed opportunity for better education during the fight to liberate marginalized Sudanese.
Stephen Lemi, who heads the education ministry in the university’s host state, pledged to support the university to the best of their ability.
Fourteen pioneer students are already attending classes since March 2, in the college of rehabilitation sciences. According to an Italian who spoke at the event, the organization La Nostra Famiglia has developed cooperation with the archdiocese of Juba to support the initiative.
The dean of college, Manuela Vittor, read out a list of the pioneer students, one of whom — Oketta Robert — voiced expectation that they would be awarded each a bachelor’s degree in rehabilitation with the focus on making differences in lives of disabled and handicapped persons, the first of its kind in southern Sudan.
He appeal to GOSS to meet tuition fees through scholarships while asking university authorities to install an internet café, library and sports facilities to avail new information access and relevant physiotherapy for body and mental building.
He also thanked the university administration for extending next year’s admission to include all states of the south, while urging GOSS to establish rehabilitation centers in all states.