By Theem Isaac Machar Akot
Last week, the vice counsellor of the University of Juba Prof. John Akec announced a plan to build a new lecture hall persuading each and every student of the 30 00 students to contribute $100 in order to meet the cost of construction. He again widened his stance and posted on his Facebook page “Students in public universities in the region: (Makerere, Nairobi, Addis Ababa etc.) pay much fees higher than South Sudanese students). A petro-state pay that is why we are asking our students to dig deep into the parents’ pockets to develop the University for their own benefit”, Prof. said. You may look the opinion small but it can expand much wider. It found my school mates and I, in a bad mood, and before I outline the reasons, I would like to tell my national figures that, they are not sincere. Avoid copy and paste and being a copycat all the time. When it comes to issues pertaining exploiting the citizens, you very well know how to compare situation in South Sudan with that of the neighbouring countries, when it comes to service delivery, you do not know how to use comparative adjectives like the ones you have used above. I have never heard of the president or other national official likes you Prof. John Akec, disclosing how governments of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia, Sudan etc. Pay ministers, doctors, teachers, soldiers and entire civil servants. I call this decision “self-centered” you should revise the “phrase that is why we are asking our students to dig deep into the parents’ pockets”. First analyze the word “parent” before you proceed to the term “pocket”.
I am asking him; has he forgotten that there are too many parentless (orphans) students in the university? Does every student have powerful parents?
The decision is very much exploiting and shocking for the following reasons;
First, among the 30 000 students, hundreds of them are orphans who hardly struggle to cater for their studies and lives. Getting $100 dollars besides the tuition fees they pay annually is somewhat difficult.
Secondly, it is not all parents who pay for their children’s studies. Other parents are so weak particularly, peasants whose incomes in a year never reach $300 for sustainability of their families. Hence, their children who are here in Juba try it very hard to support them and themselves. As a result, the harder it becomes for these kind of students to contribute and pay tuition fees, in capital letters, IMPOSSIBLE.
Thirdly, thousands of the students are jobless. It is only that the Prof. has never interacted with some of the students at work places. So long they pay annual tuition fees, he thinks, things are well for them. If he meets with some them one day, he may shed tears because of the hardest casual work they are doing just to raise school fees will affect their health in the nearest future.
Fourthly, public universities should have been offering free education according to the president’s decree, still they overcharge students in order for them to raise funds for developmental projects. Students pay very highly, I was so surprised to hear the vice chancellor wanting the students to contribute towards the development funds.
Fifthly, the approach used is impolite. It is a compulsory payment framed in the name of contribution. Contribution is simply a personal interest to pay what one affords or remains if one does not. But with this, even the figure of the amount is stated plus the number of the students mentioned to contribute. This is so weird!
Sixth, all the students are not in good terms with parents even though their parents are financially stable, they are abandoned to cater for themselves. Therefore, getting food, clothing, rent, water, electricity and tuition lies on them. Thus, they are unable to contribute and pay for school.
Seventh, development of public universities is a government project. Our government led by the president; vice chancellor as well as other top officials is our family to which the leader/head is looked up to in issues to do with developing the school and we they children benefit from the father’s achievement.
Eighth, Economic hardships have badly affected the country. I prefer you first know the incomes of the students to rushing for the self-pity idea. Others spend a month without getting only ten thousand South Sudanese pounds leave alone $100 is a yearlong after a hard struggle.
Finally, my words to you and other officials leading the nation is that; understand the term, “inheritance” before you think your children should do more than you can. The Prof. has right to say “for our benefits”; it is true the university is ours and generations to come including his children and grant children will too benefit from it. However, they (fathers) have to show us what we have to inherit from them than to collectively work with us for their successes. What will they tell their ancestors their children have inherited when resort to requiring us to do to their expectations?
If you continue like this, that means we do not have strong parents to raise us joyously. You are sponsoring laziness and cheating over the children. Up to this juncture, I rest my case and still say, let Prof. John Akec reverse the decision or else, let the government take the project.
Have a blessed day!
The writer is a first-year student, university of Juba, School of Education. He can be reached via +firstname.lastname@example.org