Thursday, April 14, 2011

Challenges to higher education in Southern Sudan

John Akec is the vice chancellor of a newly instituted university of Northern Bahr El Ghazal in Sudan. The following excerpt from his recent post on his personal blog titled "Serious Challenges Await Higher Education in Post-Referendum South Sudan" examines some of the issues the SSMEC students face on a daily basis.

As of time of writing, there are 9 public and 16 private universities in South Sudan. Of 9 public universities, only 5 are functioning while the remaining 4 are newly instituted and have neither infrastructure nor capacity to admit students in the near future. Between them, the functioning 5 Southern universities host over 25,000 regular students, about 18,000 of which study at University of Juba. Amongst the total student population, approximately 12,000 are from Northern Sudan.


Moreover, there are about 956 North Sudanese academics in 5 Southern Universities, of which 451 are based at University of Juba alone where they form 73% of the estimated 620 academic staff's total head count at that university. Nearly 700 Northerners are employed in administrative, technical, and support roles. In majority of colleges and schools in Southern universities, the number of Northern academics average 65% in all universities. In colleges such as veterinary and medicine, the percentage of Northern academics is higher and may exceed 90% or reach 100%.


On the other hand, the number of South Sudanese students studying in Northern universities is 33,000. About 5,000 of these are studying at Bachelor level; 8,000 are studying for intermediate diploma; while 20,000 are registered on postgraduate and distance education programmes. In South Sudan, about 30,000 students are sitting university entrance exams this year and an estimated 30,000 others are taking the exams in the North. Add to this an approximately 8,000 students sitting equivalent university entrance exams in East Africa, and the figure will soar to around 70,000 students who will be looking for university places in fall of 2011.
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