NEW NATION FACES SLEW OF PROBLEMS IN ITS FIRST YEAR
By Global Information Network
Some $4 billion of public money has gone missing from the treasury of South Sudan, creating a crisis for the popular president Salva Kiir Mayardit.
In a letter sent to some 75 former and present government officials, Kiir begged for the return of the funds and blasted those who â€œforgot what we fought forâ€ in the liberation war. â€œMany of our friends died for freedom, justice and equality,â€ he said, â€œyet once we got to power, we began to enrich ourselves at the expense of the people.â€
â€œMost of these funds have been taken out of the country,â€ he surmised, â€œand deposited in foreign accounts. Some have purchased properties, often paid in cash.”
Over half of the estimated $4 billion was diverted by the infamous grain scandal, where large orders of sorghum were ordered but never delivered or distributed. Hundreds of grain stores, to be used in emergencies, were also paid for but not built.
Meanwhile, some 22 colleges and private universities, formerly run by Khartoum in the north, have been closed by the Minister of Higher Education.
“There are so many challenges to higher education in South Sudan, including weak standards at a school level, poor infrastructure, a shortage of academic staff, the lack of funding for science and technology researchâ€¦ There are few university places for those that want to study,” said John Akec, vice-chancellor of the University of Northern Bahr El Ghazal.
â€œThe South Sudanese government’s priorities are on primary and secondary education – the focus is especially on the education of girls,” said Tony Calderbank, of the British Council in South Sudan. About 80 per cent of the South Sudanese population is illiterate.
Part of the challenge is to standardize the language in which schoolchildren are taught. South Sudan has chosen English as its state language, but many schools still teach in Arabic – the language favored by Sudan before independence.