Thursday, January 23, 2020

The stand-off at the University of Juba



By Pal Chol Nyan


During my university days in Khartoum, students who did not afford to pay their tuition fees used to be allowed to sit on condition that they write and sign an undertaking to pay theirs after the exams. If they failed again to pay, they would  not be allowed to see their results. 


On Wednesday, January 22, some students, who failed to pay their tuition fees, were barred from sitting for their examinations.They rioted and an informed source confirmed it to me that the rioting students tore the examination papers and vandalized the properties out of anger.  Tearing examination papers is a crime and punishable by law. This means, the paper set for today will be cancelled and questions reset. It gives the lecturers another tedious work to sit with the Examination Council to see what to do.  Secondly, those who did this should have something to answer and account for. It is a misconduct.

During my university days in Khartoum, students who did not afford to pay their tuition fees used to be allowed to sit on condition that they write and sign an undertaking to pay theirs after the exams. If they failed again to pay, they will not be allowed to see their results. 

Thirdly, the economic situation in our country is dire. There are families who have no regular sources of income to enable them to pay for their children’s fees.  I don't deny that in other parts of the region, Africa and the World, it is those who come from well-to-do families who have their children enrolled in the universities.

In the countries with security and stable economies, the primary and secondary education are free but when it comes to tertiary education, tuition fees are compulsorily paid, and it varies from one college to another.

It is worth mentioning that the fees being paid by the students are used to meet the basic requirements in the University and as allowances for the administrative and teaching staff. 

I applauded the promise by our president to increase the salaries of the university staff to boost their morale in the work they do: teaching.

We have doctors, engineers, teachers and so many other professionals because of the work teachers do in the schools and universities. I have been informed that it was affected. The big man kept his word. I salute and congratulate him for that.

 It is in realizing solid education that this country will prosper, grow and become a sustainable place to live in now and for posterity.

What is killing our people is ignorance and it is, in my opinion, due to lack of education. As such,we should be obliged to embrace and support education in all ways.

The rioting students should also know that the teaching staff are human beings. They have families to care for. They have their own physical and material needs that they would want to see met. They are doing a commendable and a great job.

I continue to beseech the students that payment of tuition fees for higher education is obligatory.  It is in the admission guide that is usually given on getting admission form which the students must read to understand before filling the form.
It is there that the students tend to know what happens in case no fees are paid or the punishment in case of any misconduct. 

University means universal education. Those studying there are expected to show high degree of integrity and respect but that doesn't compromise their rights when they see that things go wrong.  I pray that this issue will be resolved, and all will be well.

My appeal to Professor John Akec with his staff is that, kindly allow the students who have not paid school fees to sit for their examinations, but they must be given time-frame to settle the fees. Should they fail to honour it, the administration will then be on the safe side.
_________________________________

The author is a concerned, a peace-loving citizen and an Advocate of a prosperous, united and democratic South Sudan. Can be reached at palcholnyan2016@gmail.com