Gen Salva Kiir Mayardit,
President of the Republic of South Sudan:
‘Remarks on the Occasion of Independence Celebrations’,
Juba University Campus,
Saturday 13th, August 201
The Honorable Vice Chancellor of Juba University and host,
Your Excellencies Caretaker Ministers and Government Dignitaries,
Distinguished Academics and invited participants,
The families and community of Juba University,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I would like to take this opportunity to once again extend to you and the whole community of Juba University my heartfelt congratulations on the occasion of the historic Proclamation of our Independence on July 9th, 2011. This is a memorable achievement that our generations will remember forever. Our independence was not handed to us in a silver platter. We fought for it; we died for it; we got maimed for it; and at the end we won our freedom.
The most difficult task is ahead of us. We must now join hands to build our nation. The theme for this occasion is of great relevance to our current situation: ‘Juba University: Torchlight on the Path to Development of the Republic of South Sudan’. You and other institutions throughout the country shall be indeed our torchlight in rebuilding our country. We should not do this to prove to others; but to build a better future for generations to come. We are the founding fathers and mothers of our new nation.
As we have leaped into this new era, we must now mobilize our material and intellectual resources to develop. There are no other institutions more important than our universities that must become the basis of our strategy to build this country. Moreover, God has endowed us with immense resources that must be harnessed to jump start development. While we will not leave every stone unturned to mobilize for development, nothing can materialize if we do not invest resources to building and strengthening our national institutions of higher learning. We shall also ensure and encourage the establishment and expansion of private institutions. Remember that the most important asset a nation should strive for is to have an educated population. Knowledge lasts a lifetime and no one can take that away from you. The resources we have will end one day; but if we are innovative and creative, we will overcome whatever challenges we might face.
The Government of the Republic of South Sudan will assume its sovereign responsibility of providing the necessary support and guidance for our higher education institutions. Universities are the nucleus of our national development. No country can prosper without strong institutions of higher learning. In fact, the government will compliment the role of universities by encouraging the establishment of ‘Think Tanks’ whose main purpose is to critique and guide government on how to implement programs.
Let me also assure you that universities and education in general rank among the top government priorities alongside physical infrastructure development, health, power generation, and food security. In addition, this government will foster the establishment of professional institutions to assist in national planning and to cater for the improvement of universities and institutions of higher learning countrywide. We will expeditiously embark in construction of modern campuses to match international standards. This is very critical especially if we want to retain all students to acquire their basic degrees locally. This can and shall be done.
Over the past several decades, South Sudan has lost its best educated people to other countries. Many fled during the war; but were able to learn and earn higher education degrees. We will do everything we can to end the brain drain. Indeed, many have returned home to help rebuild our country. But the challenge is what can this generation do to help prepare the next generation. Government cannot do everything. You as individuals should do what you can to help.
Excellencies, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Conventionally, universalities are the competence of the National Government. During the Interim Period, the Ministry of Education became responsible for the feeding, payment of tuition fees and transport cost for students in Southern Sudan universities. As a government we are still contemplating over how best to resolve the current appalling condition of our public institutions? Let me admit that the situation of our universities is a major challenge and we will not blame ourselves because there was a deliberate move by our adversaries to keep us below standards of humanity.
I, therefore, take this opportunity to declare here today that the situation of our universities will change. The government will invest in transforming and building the physical facilities required for modern institutions of higher learning. We will start to improve all our universities in order to consolidate them and even make them become attractive destinations for both academics and practitioners worldwide. We will build universities today that one could imagine that if we were to die and rise after 200 years one can still find them blossoming! We will target state of the art institutional structures.
I appeal to you all both academic staff and administrations of our public universities to put your minds together and come up with well studied recommendations and plans for strengthening our institutions, which must become the pillars of nation-building. We cannot develop if we do not invest in the development of the human resource in order to meet the challenges of modernization, particularly the implementation of the program of rural transformation. Our institutions of higher learning must become the propellers and the core of development.
Creative learning must focus on the development of agricultural sector, physical infrastructure and the establishment of basic industries to meet the basic needs of our people. Now that we are in a free independent country, our population will increase and our needs will also expand tremendously. As I said before, we do have the advantage of beginning from scratch. We will not reinvent the wheel instead we will take stoke of the successes and failures of others to propel ourselves to the heights of modernity. We will choose what is relevant to our situation and cultures. We will not become copycats instead we will improve what others consider to be the best to make it even better.
I equally urge you in our institutions of higher learning to engage in rigorous research in order to design policies and guidelines that will lay the foundation for development in South Sudan. We must design our universities and uplift remuneration standards so as to become attractive enough to compel our intellectual Diaspora community to come back home. We do have a sizeable Diaspora that we must encourage to return home. In fact, we are probably amongst the few countries in the world that are very privileged to become independent with a huge number of educated people. We must take full advantage of that by building an infrastructure that will attract our people who are still working abroad.
There is also need to control the proliferation of private universities by setting standards that will determine the sustenance and quality of their establishment. This will include the development of relevant curricula to meet the development needs of the Republic of South Sudan. This responsibility will be given a government institution that must start to examine the challenges of higher education in the Republic. We will put our minds together and address some of the major challenges facing higher education in our country. Such challenges include: funding, accreditation of universities, physical infrastructure development, staffing, establishment of Research Councils, scholarships among others. The Government of the Republic of South Sudan will redouble its efforts in trying to address the difficulties faced by universities.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen.
I am fully aware of the current status of our universities particularly the lack of proper physical infrastructure and conducive environment for learning. I would like to take this opportunity to reassure you that it is just a matter of time we will fix such difficulties in order for our children to enjoy the fruits of the long struggle for freedom, Justice, Liberty and Prosperity.
As I said during the declarations of independence, let us continue to celebrate but we must always be equally ready to wake up the following day and work. Let me tell you this: ‘Our rule of life now is to work’! I reiterate my appeal to the younger generation that this new nation is yours and let us commit ourselves to build it.
Hard work is a virtue and in just a matter of time, we will prosper. There is nothing impossible and as it is said: ‘If there is a will there is a way’. The role of Government is to provide conducive atmosphere while citizens must join hands and work. We will issue comprehensive priorities for the next five to ten years as soon as the new cabinet lineup is in place.
Before I conclude, allow me to reiterate what I told you during the 30th, July Martyrs Day. We cannot prosper as a nation without the unity and harmony of our people. We must accept our diversity and use our difficult past experiences to grow. We must work harder and harder so that in five years change must be apparent. Government will ensure that there is no hindrance or obstacle and people should go about doing their business without any kind of fear. Remember, I have declared war on criminals and I warned them to become attentive. Criminals should never skip every word I uttered against their abhorrent behavior.
I said it during the Joint Sitting of the National Legislature that while I will continue to insist on you to work harder, I am already at work myself. The government of the Republic of South Sudan will do the best it can to enhance the welfare of its citizens. Development is not an easy thing to achieve. It will take time and in most cases those who build may not enjoy the fruits of their labor. We will build for posterity and it is our duty to ensure that future generations must not experience the same suffering we have undergone. In other words, suffering has ended with us and the future is brighter. The future is yours!
Last but not the least, I would like to inform you that the two houses of our Legislature have convened and they will have to do business by passing all the critical laws for our new nation. These are the Council of States and the National Assembly, which constitute the National Legislative Assembly. This is the supreme authority in the land. The interests of the people are fully represented in this institution. Therefore, it is incumbent upon you as enlightened citizens to engage them as your representatives in order to ensure that your aspirations and those of the wider community are loudly articulated.
Finally and as you may be aware, your government through the Central Bank of South Sudan has introduced the new currency, the South Sudan Pound (SSP). All citizens should welcome this important symbol of our sovereignty and demonstrate their nationalism by surrendering the old currency notes for our new legal tender which bares the portrait of our leader and hero, Dr. John Garang De Mabior. The exchange of this currency will end on September 1st, 2011. Please remove all the old Sudanese Pound and replace it with the new South Sudanese Pound (SSP).
Once again, I wish you well in this independence celebration and may God continue to bless South Sudan.
Thank you for listening.