By Charles K Mark
Best overall performer in the country at 2023 Certificate of Primary Education (CPE) exams, aspires to pursue engineering at university.
No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper followed up the 16-year-old Joshua Swaka Salvador Alfeo Lado to his family home at Nyakuron West for an exclusive interview.
However, the jovial young man could not hide his excitement to share the joy of being the best pupil in the county and to share his future aspirations with our reporter.
“Okay, for the marks, I was hoping for at least 499 but not to lead. But now, with this, after my secondary school, I will be able to pursue my engineering aspiration at the university,” he expressed.
Swaka was appreciative of the school administration, his friends, and teachers, not forgetting his parents for their support.
“Since the beginning of the academic year 2023, they have been with me hand in hand. Since the beginning, they have done their best,” the senior candidate said.
He pledged to strengthen his friendship and partnership with books that have registered him in the country’s records of academic excellence.
“And I will continue revising hard, not leaving my books, meaning every after classes, when I am home, I have to revise because I have learned that it is the way to understand a topic,” Swaka said.
He advised his fellow pupils, especially those following in his footsteps, to choose friends that help develop their knowledge rather than destructive peers.
“The best friend that I have studied with was Alex Gorbe. He was my desk mate. Every time I was carried away with no useful events, he would come to me and tell me, ‘Let us study together’ then we study together and we have better results,” he recounted.
Swaka recalled that his worst experience was being late to school, for which he would often face punishments such as being denied entry to class.
“My message to those coming after me is for them to work hard like I did and for some who are still behind, and for those coming to sit after me, I pray that they may do better than me,” the confident Swaka prayed.
Josila Ikong Salvador, Swaka’s elder sister and a third-year student of business administration studying at Juba University, also conveyed joy over Swaka’s excellent performance.
She expressed happiness for the history that her young brother has recorded for the family and for the whole of South Sudan.
“It was really a very hard journey because normally in such a period, there’re a lot of things he goes through, like pressure from friends out there and from family, but he made it,” she applauded.
“So I praised him. Because he’s a hardworking brother, he always hears what he’s been told. That’s the best history ever, according to me, because it’s the very first time for my community, the Lokoya Community, and our family to have such a great success.”Ikong added.
Being aware of hardships, difficulties, and challenges, Swaka’s elder sister praised the brother for being ambitious.
“He has always had goals. And he has envisioned the kind future he wanted for himself. And yet he knows he holds the key to that future,” she continued.
Ikong advised parents to preach the essence of education to their children, and she encouraged putting girls in plans for education too.
“We girls also have a better future. We girls have to do better. And I know next time girls will do better because we all have that mind. We all have that capacity. We all wanted South Sudan to be a great nation. So, we have to balance it, both genders, to make it a better country,” she concluded.
Meanwhile, Salvador Ladu Alfeo, the father of Joshua Swaka Salvador, who works in the office of the Auditor General, said he has not relaxed about supporting his children to attain a quality education.
Lado is the father of three boys and one girl. He too couldn’t hold on to his happiness upon receiving the news of his son’s achievement.
“Let me go to my happiness of today. Yes, of course. As a father, sometimes I will be absent from home for some hours, some days, or some months, but I always thank God that I have a good partner who takes responsibility in my absence. This is the mother of Joshua,” Lado smiled while pointing at his wife.
Mr. Lado glorified his son for being committed and for his determination to be a better person.
“Actually, this is history. We are now starting to write a history of our family. Because now my son is now leading in the side of the basic education certificate in South Sudan,” he stated.
For her part, Juliana Andrea, Swaka’s powerful words to send out.
She said there is not any person who has shaped the boy’s mind and character more than God.
Mama Julian said she has observed many children, some of them from very strong and powerful backgrounds and families, who end up on the streets as gangs.
“We have laid our family on a foundation of God; without God, maybe we would not celebrate this achievement. Sometimes it was difficult,” she stated.
“I could see that things were getting worse, but God has always brought us back to his love. And that is why I say, It is God, always God,” she praised.
A total of 69,555 candidates—38,591 males and 30,964 females—were registered for the 2023 primary leaving examinations.
However, only 68,281 candidates—37,841 males and 30,440 females—sat for the examination. The rest, 1,274, were reported absent.
Announcing the results yesterday, the NEC Chairperson, who doubles as Minister of General Education and Instruction, Awut Deng Acuil, said examinations administered in 1,665 schools were grouped into 551 examination standards.
A total of 53,937 people, of whom 28,134 were female and 35,813 were male, passed the examination.
The performance intake was placed at 72.1, while 4,344 females and 2,316 males failed the exam, which represents 6.4% of the total number of candidates that attempted the examination.
On the top 10 best performers’ positions are 129 students headed by Joshua Swaka Salvador, who scooped 480 marks as a pupil of JCC Model Primary School in Central Equatoria State.
First in the second top 10 position are Mading Abit Deng Abit and Chol Kiir Chol Kiir, both from Salaam Nursery and Primary School, with a total of 479 marks.
While first in the top 10 in position three is Eluzai Soma Yakobo Dedenya from JCC Model Primary School CES with Mark 478, followed by three others.
Leading the first position in the 4th top ten with 477 is Abui Gabriel Thon Choi from St. Peter Primary School, Rajaf, followed by ten others in the same position.
Position five of the top ten best performers is led by Deng George Aluom Maker, from Salaam Nursery and Primary School (CES), with 476 marks.