Primary school finalists in SPLM-IO areas to miss exams, SPLM-IO condemns verdict

As bells ring to signal the commencement of the 2020 Certificate of Primary Examinations across the country tomorrow morning, candidates in SPLM-IO controlled areas will not sit due to unresolved security concerns, South Sudan’s Minister of General Education and Instruction, Awut Deng Acuil said.

Awut, who doubles as the Chairperson of the South Sudan National Examinations Council, last Thursday said in a press statement that necessary arrangements had been made to curb malpractices in the exams to be supervised by security personnel.

But she said Primary 8 finalists in parts of Jonglei and Upper Nile States controlled by SPLM-IO will not sit the 2020 primary leaving examinations due to security concerns.

“It is important for me to underscore that in this year 2020/2021 examination cycle, a lot of strict security measures have been devised and put in place to curb malpractices in examinations and to ensure the security of the examinations, examinees, and examiners,” Awut said. “In the absence of both the police and security, nothing can guarantee the security and integrity of the examinations, and thus such areas shall be regarded as no-exams zones,” the education minister said.

“Given this brief backdrop, the South Sudan National Examination Council and the Ministry of General Education and instruction have been alerted of possible examination security threats in most of the SPLA/IO bases in parts of Jonglei and Upper Nile States,” Minister Awut explained. “Case in point is the recent detention of staff belonging to an agent contracted by the National Ministry of General Education and Instruction to pay teachers’ incentives in Nyiror in Jonglei State. To date, the money is not yet recovered although the agents were later released.”

She said that the security concerns have been shared with security organs and a resolution to made that unless a clear assurance is given by the SPLM-IO leadership over the security of examinations in those areas, no exams will take place.

“Therefore, since we have already raised a red flag over this security concern, and the primary eight exams are set to begin in literally four days from today, I am afraid to state that the pupils in these locations will have to needlessly miss out on their examinations due to the unresolved security concerns,” the education minister concluded.

Reacting to the education minister’s statement, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement in Opposition (SPLM-IO) Director for Information and Public Relations, Puok Both Baluong, condemned the move and said it was unfortunate.

“We received a statement from Hon. Minister of Education that students in our states will not sit for the exams. This is unfortunate and we are looking at it simply as a humiliation for these South Sudanese students. They are supposed to be treated like any other students in other parts of the country,” Puok Both said.

He adds, “This is a step towards politicizing the conflict between the parties and it is also the denial of educational rights for these South Sudanese by the authorities. We condemn this move and we call on the officials in the Ministry of Education to treat all students, who could be in our controlled areas or anywhere else across South Sudan with equal rights of education. I am surprised to hear this kind of statement from Hon. Awut, who is a woman. She is supposed to be more concerned about education for our children.”

Asked how the impasse can be remedied, Puok Both said, “Our message is simple. Let them revoke their decision because it is unjust against South Sudanese citizens and deny their educational rights. They should stop politicizing other issues. We don’t see a reason why students in our area should not sit for their examination. All citizens in our controlled area should not be treated as IO’s citizens. They are South Sudanese and they found themselves during wartime in that region and they couldn’t travel or get out.”

Source: Radio Tamazuj

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