The governor of South Sudan’s Lakes State has said that government officials misappropriate and steal public funds meant for education.
Governor Rin Tueny Mabor was speaking during a three-day general education annual review conference in Rumbek town under the theme, ‘Transforming Education And Access.’
According to General Rin, schools in liberated areas during the independence struggle were better than the schools these days.
“Now we are a country with all the institutions and with all the money, and we are failing to establish our education. This is not good. Is it because there is no money?” he asked. “There is money, but we as the officials of the government are eating public money. We are stealing public money! The question is why do we kill our country?”
The senior state official, however, did say what would be his plan to stop the embezzlement of funds by officials in his state.
Separately, the governor said his administration had succeeded in stabilizing security in the state.
“We have worked collectively to maintain and stabilize the security situation in the state, which turned the impossible to be possible. Lakes State is secured, stable and peaceful,” he said. “We have also implemented agriculture for all for food which is another government policy in Lakes State here such that we are food secure.”
“The peace is sustainable because it is owned by the people, but now what next?” he added.
“My question is answered today by the Ministry of General Education because what next is development, and development starts with education,” he said. “To sustain peace and to recover from the conflicts, we must have quality education.”
Governor Tueny said there is no quality education in Lakes State and challenged education officials to up their game.
“For me and you here, the answer is no, there is no quality education and no good system of education in Lakes State,” he charged. “Getting your team to come down here is a very good approach, and I am happy because you will get ideas from these teachers who are suffering due to poor pay.”
For her part, the national minister of general education and instruction, Awut Deng Achuil, urged the ministry of education in Lakes State to pay teachers their full salaries and allowances.
“I want to stress that the teachers must be paid full salary, including all their allowances. I acknowledge that the new pay is not enough, and we are working hard under the vice president for the service cluster and all the education partners to improve teachers’ salaries,” she said.
She said most teachers are volunteers and hoped the implementation of the new salary structure would attract teachers back to schools.
“We have initiated the screening process for the teachers nationwide, and the committee led by the national minister of public service and human resource development is currently in Wau and will come to Rumbek to screen our teachers in Lakes State,” she said.
The UNICEF zonal chief for Bahr el Ghazal, Pad-Ma-Vathi Yed-la, said they recognize the key challenges to education, particularly in areas of access to quality education and efficiency.
“We have many goals that we have attained. We also have children with disability and those with special needs who have talents but are unable to have access to education,” she said. “Education can lay a strong foundation for the children to continue the process of their education.”
South Sudan has been ranked as the most corrupt amongst the 180 countries in the 2021 Corruption Perceptions Index (CPI) by Transparency International (TI), the nongovernmental organization based in Germany, which defines corruption as the misuse of public power for private benefit.