Malakal/Renk, 2-8 August 2018 – A delegation consisting of Hon. Minister of Higher Education Hon. Yien Oral Lamu Tut, the Japanese Ambassador to South Sudan H.E. Seiji Okada, university officials, and UNDP leadership conducted two fact-finding missions in order to assess the support needed to facilitate Upper Nile University’s relocation back to its Malakal and Renk campuses.
Led by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology Hon. Yien Oral Lamu Tut, and the Governors of Northern (Renk) and Central Upper Nile (Malakal), the delegation visited and observed the status of multiple Upper Nile University campuses, and discussed renovation, refurbishment, and re-equipment priorities.
“This is a very encouraging project and one which is very important for the benefit of the citizens. The return of the University of Upper Nile will help with development. The return of students will help also, for example, the hospitals and secondary schools. We have been knocking doors and seeking assistance to undertake this work since last year, and we are impressed that our engagement with the Japanese government has become a reality. We are looking forward to the finalization of this project as soon as possible, and getting work underway,” said Hon. Minister Yien Oral Lamu Tut.
The visits were the first-ever to Malakal and Renk for a Japanese Ambassador to South Sudan. The purpose of the Ambassador’s visit was to reaffirm Japan’s commitment to supporting formal and vocational education as a valuable step in restoring peace and stability to South Sudan.
“The Government of Japan is committed to support South Sudan in various fields, and among these, we see the importance of education. I strongly hope the students will come back here to Malakal and Renk. The return of 4,000 students will be key for Upper Nile itself and with these students lies the hope of building the future of this country. We do intend to start this project soon and I hope to return to see the campus filled with students in the future,” said Ambassador Okada, during a joint press conference held in Malakal.
As a result of the December 2013 crisis, Upper Nile University sustained damages to its lecture halls, offices, libraries, dormitories, offices, and other structures. Most of the University’s equipment and assets were either stolen or destroyed. More than 89% of the University’s student population is colocated in a temporary space in Juba, with a deadline to vacate by the end of January 2019.
In Renk, the delegation was greeted by local students, who appealed to Ambassador Okada to support the return of the university, as well as vocational training opportunities.
“With recovery and resilience building in South Sudan, different states will require different entry points, different efforts, and a different mix of services. It is clearly understandable from these missions that Upper Nile University is essential to the recovery of this region. The return of the university students is central to the revival and rehabilitation of the skills and knowledge base needed in the markets. In turn, Upper Nile University can play a critical role in demonstrating the local commitment to reviving institutions so that Malakal, Renk, and Upper Nile as a whole, is returned to a peaceful, integrated, and united region. We have seen a lot and will take this knowledge back to the drawing board to further define the entry points and phases of this project,” said UNDP Country Director Dr. Kamil Kamaluddeen.