News / Africa

Juba University Struggles to Build Capacity for Southern Sudan’s Reconstruction

Shoppers and merchants in the Konyo Konyo market, one of Juba's most congested areas with shops and makeshift homes in Juba, southern Sudan (File Photo - 18 Aug 2010)
Shoppers and merchants in the Konyo Konyo market, one of Juba's most congested areas with shops and makeshift homes in Juba, southern Sudan (File Photo - 18 Aug 2010)

Southern Sudanese are voting this week in a referendum that will decide whether the south will secede from Sudan and become a new nation. No matter what the decision is, the authorities in the vast territory face the staggering task of reconstruction after decades of war and neglect. VOA reports from the University of Juba on the challenges facing one institution that will play an important role in the effort.

The University of Juba’s campus consists of a dozen brown-stone buildings, grouped around a clock tower near the center of the city.

The midday sun beats onto the collapsed wooden rafters of the main administration building.  It has no roof or windows.

At the nearby lab science building, Professor Simon Monoja proudly displays his ink-stained index finger after casting his vote in the referendum.

He has taught for 30 years at the university.  Its story in many ways illustrates the challenges facing the region.

"It has been very difficult, especially the 20 years we spent in Khartoum because when we moved we had no facilities," said Monoja. "We were teaching under tents."

Juba University had been operating relatively smoothly, despite the civil war when a military coup in 1989 brought to power a government with strong Islamist-Arabist ideas.

The government soon moved the University to Khartoum, thousands of kilometers to the north, citing security concerns.

Southerners felt this was part of a policy of assimilation of the south, where historical and cultural affinities lay closer to East Africa, a few hundred kilometers to the south.

Monoja says gradually the school adapted to its new surroundings in the Sudanese capital and classes were moved from the tents into prefabricated buildings.

But the campus was located 40 kilometers from downtown Khartoum which made transportation difficult for students and staff. 

Resentment increased when the government decreed that all teaching would be done in Arabic. English, the lingua franca of the south, would be abandoned.

"We were forced to be operating in Arabic," he said. "Although we managed to resist total the Arabicization of the university, our counter-problem was that we had no teaching materials."

He says faculty members developed their own English teaching materials and continued teaching in English when they could.  He says, fortunately, the authorities looked the other way.

A second year student in the Psychology Department at Khartoum, Moris Tumusiime, has come to Juba to vote.  He says the southern Sudanese students feel discrimination in race and in language.

"Here [in southern Sudan] we speak English as an official language and there we were forced to speak Arabic which we have not actually gone through [studied] in primary level," said Tumusiime. "So it became very difficult for us to catch up with the students who are there."

Eventually it was decided to move the university back to Juba;  but this also posed obstacles.

"When we went to Khartoum in 1989, we had only five colleges," said Monoja.  "But, over the years, the number of faculties developed to 16.  So it became a problem moving back because the campus here was so small."

To date, nearly half of the departments have returned to Juba, helped by the semi-autonomous government of Southern Sudan and international donors. In July, 2,600 students registered for classes here.

Monoja says the biggest challenge has been the lack of facilities.  But he notes the government has already begun rebuilding the campus and hopes this will intensify after the referendum.

He says another challenge is staffing.  Many northerners who taught at the Khartoum campus did not want to move south.

Officials hope southern Sudanese living abroad will return to help out.  But Monoja says many of them are hesitating.

"Many of them are still waiting for what will happen after the referendum," he said.  "So everybody is still waiting and [to] see. But we are hoping that after this referendum, if the south secedes, many of them are going to come and maybe assist us and join us in the teaching profession."

Monoja notes that reconstruction began after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the north and south, or CPA, was signed in 2005.  Although much remains to be done the progress gives him confidence.

"I personally am optimistic that the South, given the last six years since the signing of the CPA, and what has happened in the south within those six years, I am really hopeful and very optimistic that the south will be making it," said Monoja.

Officials here say they desperately need to expand educational institutions to train teachers, health workers, civil servants, lawyers and the other professionals that the south so desperately needs.

The problem is that other sectors of society are also crying out for personnel and funds.

With limited resources, they will have to address these tremendous demands, whether independence is chosen or not.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs UN countermeasure More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountaini
X
July 02, 2015 4:10 AM
Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs