Nearly 1,000 primary candidates in IO areas start the exam. 

More than 900 primary eight candidates who missed out in the exams in areas under IO have started sitting for Primary Leaving Examinations on Monday.

Last week, the Ministry of General Education suspended the exams for the candidates in the SPLM-IO controlled areas cited fear of insecurity.

An ultimate compromise was later reached after series of engagements from the Unity government include donors supporting the South Sudan education sector. 

Simon Nyok is the secretary-general for the national examination council in South Sudan.

He says the candidates started today [Monday] expected to finalize this week, and exams will be marks in Juba. The Education Minister rescheduled the exam in two states of Upper Nile and Jonglei.

Nyok says the examinations being undertaken by the candidates are authenticated and free from malpractice.

“They started the examination this week and would continue to the close of the week…we know that the exams were airlifted on Saturday to Centers where candidates are to sit for their exams.”

UNICEF announced that it delivered examination papers to seven counties in South Sudan where exams were postponed. Primary 8 candidates who missed out on their exams last week would sit today, Monday, 15 February.

“This was an important mission for UNICEF as access to education is a right for every child, regardless of location,” said Andrea Suley, UNICEF South Sudan Representative a.i. “I’m pleased with UNICEF’s ability to mobilize quickly with partners and deliver the examination papers on time. What remains is to wish the children the best of luck.”

The UN Children Agency said it delivered face masks for the students, hand sanitizers, and soap for handwashing to maintain COVID-19 guidelines throughout the examination.

UNICEF reiterated its commitment to collects the exam papers at the end of the week and bringing them to Juba for marking.

The Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011 (as amended) article 29 guarantees every Child a right to education.

Candidates Missed Exam in the SPLM-IO Areas to sit on Monday 15th.

The SPLM-IO and the Ministry of General Education have finally settled controversy stuck-point, denying primary eight candidates in Upper Nile and Jonglei states who missed the national exam on February 8th to sit. 

An ultimate compromise was reached after series of engagements from the Unity government include donors supporting the South Sudan education sector, pushing the Ministry of General Education to respect the child’s constitutional right in the Upper Nile region.

The office of First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar delivered a formal statement on Thursday, informing the public about the outcome resolutions with General Education’s ministry. 

According to the press release signed by James Gatdet Dak, the last decision was made in the education cluster meeting. It is agreed children will site, and an examination is expected to occur in “19 centers” controlled by SPLM-IO.

 Dak uttered Machar has “directed authorities in areas where the examination will take place to cooperate, provide security and protect invigilators who will take examination materials, include examinee.”

According to the letter circulated to the media house, the minister of General Education and Instruction Awut Deng confirmed RTGoNU’s decision to let pupils sit their national examinations.

Hon. Awut rescheduled the exam in two states. The exam in Upper Nile and Jonglei shall commence next week, Monday 15th, and ended on Friday 19th.  

Ministry has started examination transportation to the locations on Friday 12th until February 14th. 

“The National Examinations Council has decided to fix new dates to conduct primary eight exams for the pupils who had missed out on the initial examination, Deng reiterated. Congratulation to all my children and wish them the best of luck, Deng reiterated.” 

Hon. Awut stopped taking standard examinations to SPLM-IO control areas last week, citing unclear insecurity threats, which some government dignitary officials rubbished in Unity government include international education partners.

Article 29 in the transitional constitution of South Sudan says education is for every citizen, and all government levels shall provide access to education without any discrimination regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, gender, or disability.

Ministry of Education calls to revoke canceling exam in IO control areas 

The leadership of SPLM-IO has urged the minister of General Education, Hon. Awut Deng Acuil overrules an unprecedented decision stopping standard eight examinations in IO control areas. 

According to the General Education schedule, primary eight candidates are expected to sit for the South Sudan national exam next week. 

Deng indefinitely issued a statement on Thursday withholding the standard eight exam of reaching IO control areas due to what she described as “insecurity threats” in Jonglei and the Upper Nile state. 

In the statement, there was no proper evidence to prove such concerns. The ministry claimed that their staff belonging was previously detained by IO after person assign, send to pay teachers incentive in Nyiror in Jonglei state.

Ministry further reiterated concerns shared with the National Security Service and the police department. All agreed that the exam would not be taken until SPLM-IO gives them proper security assurance.

It is not clear if that can be a reason for adjourning children’s exam when all parties agree to work in one government.

The first vice president spokesperson Puok Kueth Baluong has condemned General education’s decision. He says they are being surprised by “statement that violates the norms and constitutional right of the child access to education.”

Mr. Puok dismissed all insecurity claims naked by the General education. He said the politicized move rights to education of South Sudanese children regardless of who controls the area.   

We think this move is sort of politicking this matter of education, the move or decision is denying pupils to have this of examination.” 

UNICEF communication specialist Helene Sandbu Ryeng says her organization is so concerned for primary eight candidates in SPLM-IO control areas if they do not have a site for the exam. She told pupils are well prepared to sit for the exam, and it is their right to complete the course.

Ryeng says UNICEF was supporting the ministry of General Education in sending out exams across the country. And she urged parties to the agreement to find an amicable solution as soon as possible to ensure that children will not miss the exam.

“It is a fundamental principle for UNICEF to acknowledge that education is the right for every child regardless where in the room child is, and that is standing until today.”

The Transitional Constitution of South Sudan, 2011 (as amended) article 29 guarantees every Child a right to education.

Students’ Demands Handwashing Services amid COVID-19

The primary eight candidates in Padaar Comboni School are demanding handwashing materials installation.  Inaccessibility of health prevention materials that include facemask, soaps, and sanitizers for disinfection has caused anxiety among the candidates.

The students were concerned about the possibility of contracting coronavirus due to the unavailability of health facilities. Students claimed they are attending classes without handwashing that include visitors coming to school.

Seventy-five students who were said coming from different areas are attending classes in one classroom without respecting social distancing.

In September, the national ministry of education ordered the reopening of schools and enforced general hygiene and safety rules to be observed.

“In our School St. Daniel Comboni, we are lacking hand washing containers that will protect us from contracting Covid-19. We also lack benches, and sharing the few we had is against current health guidelines regarding coronavirus preventions,”

“We wanted social distance to be put in place by ensuring that enough benches are provided. Education partners and school administration should take our concerns seriously,’’

School headmaster Isaac Garang admitted challenges. He said his office is engaging education partners to provide the school with COVID-19 equipment. In contrast, he urged the Primary eight candidates to be patient as the school administration finds alternative solutions to address an issue.

“Our benches are still in Rumbek because floodwater has cut off the road linking Rumbek and Yirol. Now learners do come with their chairs during teaching hours”  

Education official said the institution lack support from its partners “So, the school is lacking benches. There is no assistance from Education partners operating here. The candidates are seventy-five, and if we divided them into two classes, there are no teachers to teach them. So that is the challenge facing us in our school,’’

A National NGO known as Charity Empowerment Foundation distributed handwashing containers to twelve schools in Lakes State in September.

Candidates with no birth certificates risk to miss exam.

Primary and Secondary school candidates in Northern Bahr El Ghazal have no birth certificate, starting to worry about missing the final national examination registration dateline. The birth certificates are a mandatory requirement for all candidates, according to the Ministry of Education.

The fear emerged among the students toward the end of the registration dateline. Students say that getting a birth certificate is a challenge at Aweil’s main hospital, while registration at schools will end on Tuesday 10 November 2020.

They call on the state Ministry of Education and Administration of Aweil Civil Hospital to help them on the matter.

” I have spent one week here coming to the hospital, and I have yet received my birth certificate. We are told to come tomorrow since last week, while the deadline for registration is today, [Tuesday, Nov 10]

“We need the Ministry of education to extend the registration deadline, it, is tomorrow and we still don’t have birth certificates which we have started the process but still waiting for them.”

“Forms are not here at the hospital, and they say they will be brought from juba, which we don’t know when, but we come to check daily. The Ministry should find a solution for us as the deadline clocks tomorrow.”

 The Director-General in the Education Ministry, Cezar Atem Biajo, says they are aware of the challenge. Atem claimed he advised the school administration to register candidates, and their documents will be demanded later.

Primary candidates are expected to sit for their final exam in February next year.

25 Teachers to Receive Cash Incentives in Eastern Equatoria

At least 25 teachers working for the government public primary schools in Kapoeta South county, Eastern Equatoria are expected to received teaching incentive.

Duku Derick is the program manager for disaster emergency committee (DEC) project implemented by Plan international, an international NGO. He told Singaita FM on Wednesday that the aimed of giving incentive is to help motivate teachers so that they continue to work effectively.

He said each teachers will be paid 6,550 South Sudanese pounds and the project will continue for a duration of 6 months.

Derick said they are giving support as an incentive and not like salaries to teachers who will be involved in this alternative education process.

“This money is just given to help them to support their families I know it is a small amount we feel it is good to motivate teachers by giving some small motivation in that form” said Derick.

He said the disaster emergency committee is funded by UK in response to the emergency education program amid COVID 19 pandemic.

Mr. Ayoma Sarafin is the acting director general at the  ministry of education in Eastern Equatoria state. He said they have not been informed about the payment of incentive to teachers in Kapoeta. Saying that he hope the agency will present their plan to the state  ministry of education to see how this project will be implemented.

Sarafin called upon the partners NGOs working in the state to first get an introductory letter from the national ministry of education in case of any support to teachers.

“Any organization that comes to help we are grateful that is a very good support to our education sector, any organization that comes is supposed to come with letter from the national ministry of Education MOGEI” said Sarafin.

Plan International refuted the claims that government not aware of its support to Education in Kapoeta. It said the project is coordinated between National Ministry with County Education authority.

Kapoeta: Kuleu Lights Academy postpone school opening.

The Kuleu Lights Academy’s primary administration in Kapoeta, Eastern Equatoria has postponed school reopening this week for standard eight candidates over financial constraints. The school administration has rejected the operational burden without cash to pay teachers.

Students saw the postponement of school reopening as a worse move that will affect over 30 candidates who will risk missing classes before they sit their final national exam in December 2020.

Two weeks ago, the ministry of education announced the reopening of schools across the country. In March, the government has closed down all schools due to the coronavirus outbreak that has affected global activities.

The school director said they needed money to pay teachers and institution operations. Now learners are worried about their future to catch up with lessons. The administration claimed they had made an arrangement of increasing school fees to 27,000 pounds this year, but parents disagreed.

Pastor James Lokuuda confirmed that they had taken a unanimous decision. The school will remain close this year until their demands are met. He urged the candidates to get enrolled in other schools.

“We have decided we postpone the opening of the school to next year because we cannot afford it. There is no money to pay the teachers or even feed them the normal breakfast and lunch that they get from the school. We can’t do that. And also we may recommend them because now they are not coming. If anyone who wanted their child to get into school this year, they can take them to Kotome primary because Kotome is also a good school or even to Kapoeta day”.

Parents were dismayed by the administration’s decision. They suggested the school be open and pay the school fees slowly.

“This is wrong because the schools were declared to reopen. If they wanted money to be paid more than twenty, now if these students will remain home, they will get spoils. Many of them will enter the markets; others will become drunkards. Lokkuda cannot decide this, let him call parents to come for a meeting. Let him collect this money slowly up to next year because this is the same year that these learners paid. Parents have just started collecting little money for this pupil to return to school”.

The students urge the school’s administration to calls for a general meeting between parents, teachers, and students.

“We don’t know the problem why they close, and they heard that they add a lot of fees and parents has to come parent refuses to go to school because of the money that has been added that why the school is close, they need to call the parent and the head of the school he should help school children.

The UN supports reopening of schools despite rising COVID-19 cases

UN children agency UNICEF and UNESCO have welcomed the government decision to reopen schools in South Sudan

The reopening is expected to happen in phases 1 and 2 were the candidate classes, Primary 8 and Senior 4, and will start the first week of October 2020, according to the statement the UN agencies released. Phase 2 includes all schools and grades and will coincide with the start of the academic year in February 2021.

The government passed a resolution during the council of Minister last week. The schools have been closed since March this year due to COVID-19.

The UN children agency said 2 million children keep out of school. This comes on top of the 2.2 million children out of school before the pandemic hit South Sudan.

UNICEF and UNESCO stated that Scientific evidence shows children are not super-spreaders of COVID-19 and are the least affected by it in the region, with a mere 2.5 percent of COVID-19 cases among children of school-going age (5-18 years, WHO). “At the same time, we have seen growing evidence of the negative impact closed classrooms have had on children, including abuse, exploitation, child marriage, and early pregnancies”. Both organizations also said children are safer inside the school walls than outside.

“This is a great day for children in South Sudan who can soon resume their learning and continue planning for their future,” said Mohamed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF South Sudan Representative. “The last seven months have been a huge blow for learning but also for protecting children from abuse and exploitation; therefore, we are really pleased with the Government’s decision to reopen schools.”

The UN agencies unveil a plan to work with the Ministry of General Education and Instruction for a safe reopening of schools. The plan includes improved water provision to schools, repair of water infrastructure, soap distribution, hand washing stations, and sanitary kits.

According to the statement, students and the teachers will get free washable face masks and social mobilization will be increased to raise awareness on the reopening of schools and encouraging parents to send their children to school.

UNESCO Representative in South Sudan Mr. Julius Banda said in the statement that the longer children stay out of school, the harder it is to get them back to the classrooms. “We don’t have a school day to lose, the children have already lost so many understand that parents might be nervous, but I urge all caregivers to trust that their children are safer at school. I know you want what is best for your children, and right now that is sending them back to schoo/,”Banda said.

The education reopening plan expects to cost 16.4 million US dollars. The UN said only USD 7 million is available through the Global Partnership for Education.

UNICEF and UNESCO are urging donors and partners to step forward to support the reopening of schools in South Sudan.

South Sudan confirmed 2,660 case, includes 1,438 recovered and 49 death since April this year.