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South Sudan minister promises to address students concerns in Uganda

By Philip Thon Aleu

March 5, 2011 (KAMPALA) – South Sudan minister of Youth, Sports and Recreation Makuach Teny Yok has pledged to address grievances raised by students studying in neighbouring Uganda through government strategies of jobs creation and financial support.

South Sudan minister of Youth, Sports and Recreation Makuach Teny Yok is received at Kampala International University by student leaders. March 5, 2011 (ST)

South Sudan is due to become independent in July following a referendum earlier this year agreed as part of a 2005 North-South peace deal.

Minister Teny, who was visiting Kampala, presided over a ceremony at Kampala International University (KIU), organized by the university’s South Sudan Students’ Association (KIUSSA), to celebrate the successful referendum.

He told the youth to prioritize achieving excellence and acquiring knowledge to create a competitive private sector in South Sudan rather than relying on limited government jobs.

“The government is undertaking jobs creation seriously and over 1 million jobs will be [reserved] for youths,” he said to ululations of the students who filled a hall on Saturday at KIU’s main campus in the Ugandan capital.

Teny categorically dismissed students’ claims that unemployment is rampant in Juba, the seat of the South Sudan government, by saying: “What we are looking for is knowledge, which can be used in any sector – private or government’s, but there are jobs [in South Sudan].”

Speaking before the minister took to the stage, the leader of KIUSSA, John Malith Mabor, said that young qualified people in Juba are being denied jobs and government institutions.

“It is not good to hear that few of our students who managed to graduate are still jobless when the country needs skilled man power,” he said.

Malith, who is the president of Kampala International University Sudanese Students Association (KIUSSA), also requested the minister to press the government of south Sudan to empower young people and to “sort out” underdevelopment in the region.

The student leader said he appreciated the South Sudan government for the financial assistance students receive for tuition fees. The policy aims to encourage students on private scholarship in East African countries.

South Sudan minister of Youth, Sports and Recreation Makuach Teny Yok joins Warrap dancers at celebration of independence vote at Kampala International University. March 5, 2011 (ST)

South Sudanese overwhelmingly opted to secede from the north in January’s referendum. The plebiscite was a result of 2005 comprehensive peace agreement (CPA) that ended two decades north-south civil war where at least 2 million people died according to the UN. The new nation will gain statehood on 9 July, 2011 in accordance with the CPA.

Being at war a year before the Sudan’s independence from British in 1956, South Sudan is one of the world poorest regions where basic infrastructures are extremely underdeveloped and the rate of illiteracy is high.

Though the peace return to the south in 2005, thousands of former refugee students continue to attend schools in neighboring east African countries.

The celebration of South Sudan referendum result, at Kampala International University on Saturday was attended by various South Sudanese communities in Kampala as well as the Government of Southern Sudan (GOSS) mission officials.

Traditional dancers and local artists performed at the series of interludes at the ceremony that lasted for several hours. The scene was joyous when the guest of honor Minister Teny joined danced with a group of dancers from Warrap.

Speeches from various representatives dominated the function. Student representatives from Uganda, Tanzania and Somalia were also present.

(ST)