Examinations for students transitioning from primary to secondary school have kicked off in South Sudan with more than 40,000 taking part across the country.
In the capital Juba, 640 students from five primary schools in the United Nations Protection of Civilians site near the UN base are among those who will take the examinations.
The Ministry of General Education and Instruction together with the UN Mission in South Sudan, UNICEF and other partners from the education cluster made available two exam centers in the city for students living in the POC site to take the exams.
To ensure the safety of the students as they are transported from the UN sanctuary site to the centers, peacekeepers from the UNMISS have been deployed to escort them to the exam halls and keep guard as they write.
“It is a good feeling that we had the opportunity to help the students take their exams,” said Alexandru Catalin Dutuc, UN Police Juba Field Officer.
It is our hope that the students will “go forward with their education and maybe one day they will succeed in having a better life for themselves”, he said.
Twenty-three year old, Nyamal Tang Muong, a student at Hope Primary School in the UN protection site is among the students taking the exams. After four years in the POC site, she says she is confident that she will do well in these school-leaving exams adding that she was “happy” she could leave the gates of the protection site without fear.
“The UN police were protecting us so we are safe. No problem. We were afraid but now no one can fear again,” said Nyamal.
These exams are critical as they will determine whether students qualify to make the transition from primary to secondary school in hope for a better future.
For Nyamal, a mother of two boys, these examinations offer an opening towards her dreams of one day becoming a midwife.
“When I grow up I want to be a midwife because if you are a midwife, you can save the community,” she said. “If you are in the area and someone who has to deliver, then you can come and be able to help them.”
The Minister of General Education, Deng Deng Hoc Yai, said that it was in the interest of the Ministry “to ensure that all children have access to the examination and are able to do their exam in a conducive atmosphere and are able to achieve their best”.
In a country that has been affected by conflict since gaining independence in 2011, these exams offer an opportunity for a better life for the younger generation and ultimately a brighter future for this young East African nation.