Hundreds of students in the capital of South Sudan are this week sitting their primary school graduation exam at the United Nations compounds where they have been living since violence erupted in the city almost a month ago.
The Primary Leaving Examination, which is an essential step for continuing education into secondary level, was due to have begun in Juba on December 16, just as fighting spread across the city. Thousands of candidates were therefore unable to take the exam.
However, nearly 5,000 candidates are now sitting the exam, including hundreds who are currently displaced by the conflict, living in the two UN compounds in Juba. UNICEF worked with the State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology of Central Equatoria State and peacekeepers at the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to make sure the displaced students living in the camps did not lose out on this important opportunity. The exams will be held all week, ending on Friday January 17.
“The candidates in Juba County could not sit for their exams because of the clashes that begun on the eve of the examination date last month,” said Eustaz Wani Ladu, the Ministry’s Director for National Examinations. “The State Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is happy that these candidates, including those displaced by the conflict, can now sit for their exam.”
“We’re hoping the situation in Juba remains calm throughout the examination period,” he added.
Although this is a primary school graduation exam, many of the students are aged around 17 to 19 years, as children in what was at the time southern Sudan were interrupted in their schooling during years of conflict with the north. The students taking their exams this week had been hoping to catch up with their schooling, but the recent conflict has been a setback.
"This will definitely affect my performance,” said 19 year-old Gatluak Tung Gatluak, as he finished his English exam, “Not only have I lost four brothers and a friend during the clashes, but I lost all my books when we had to flee our home."
"Taking a primary school leaving exam is a major milestone in education and we are impressed by the courage and determination of these young students to pursue their education under the most difficult of circumstances,” said UNICEF Country Representative in South Sudan, Dr Iyorlumun Uhaa. “We will do everything we can to help these young students through to secondary education and a chance at the future they so deserve.”
Notes for editors:
For further information, please contact:Claire Blackburn, UNICEF UK, + 44 (0)20 7375 6261 ClaireB@unicef.org.uk
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