CAIRO – South Sudan’s minister of higher education, Gabriel Changson Lew Chang, has said during an exclusive interview with Sudans Post on Saturday in Cairo, that Egyptian government has agreed to increase undergraduate and postgraduate scholarships for South Sudanese students.
Below is the full interview with Changson.
Q1. Since your appointment as minister of higher education, you haven’t come to Egypt and your predecessors have had rare visits to this part of the continent, what does this visit means now?
Answer: Well thank you for the interview. This visit is very crucial for ministry of higher education science and technology of the Republic of South Sudan we are trying to transform the higher education institution so that their capacity is raised to the extended that they can deliver the serviced needed by the republic of South Sudan from them. This visit was facilitated through an invitation given to us by the ministry of higher education and scientific research of Egypt. So we utilized this opportunity to come and discuss issues pertaining to scholar they used to giver to our students since 1972. And as a result of this visit, we discussed and agreed on a number of issues which we finalized today by signing a memorandum of understanding containing all the new improvements we are putting on the scholarship.
Q2. It is very important that you have mentioned the issue of the scholarship. A lot of students here have been complaining that some scholarships meant for South Sudanese students have, at some points, been sold out by embassy staffs to foreigners. So, is there any investigation that you are going make regarding this issue?
Answer: That is not the purpose of our visit. The purpose of our visit is to review the agreement between our two ministries in term of increasing the size of scholarship which we did from 300, no it will be 400 scholarship.
Q3. For undergraduate?
Answer: For both. Out of 400, 300 will be undergraduates and 100 will be post graduate. That is MA, Masters’ Degrees and PhDs. Then we also agreed to improve the conditions of students that are studying here in Egypt in terms of providing accommodations for them, health insurances providing two-way tickets each year and also we agreed those who are studying on their own should have a waiver of tuition fees of all the expenses pertaining to their studies to teh turn of 90% and they will only be paying for 10%.
Q4. So what will be the time-frame for the implementation of all these bilateral agreements.
Answer: The implementation we have also included in the memorandum of understanding that a six-person committee will be formed. Three from each side to follow up the implementation of this agreement. The 100 scholarship that are given , will be implemented this year and then the committee’s first meeting will be in April next year in Juba. We will, as soon as we go back, work out a plan for the implementation including the matrix of implementation. We also agreed on teh opening of Tonj Branch of Alexandria University in April and this university or this plan has been in book for more than ten years and now we want to activate it and that university will also enroll a number of South Sudanese students.
Q5. So the Tonj Branch of Alexandria University is going to be opened in April 2021?
Q6. My last question is about the effects of COVID-19 on the South Sudanese students studying in foreign countries not only in Egypt. The high-level taskforce that was previously led by First Vice President Dr. Riek Machar had pledged about 3 million Dollars for students abroad. Some of these funds haven’t arrived and in countries like Egypt and Sudan, the money that were meant for each student haven’t been given fully, so is there going to be any resolution for this?
Answer: What I know is that there was 2 million dollars that was released to cater for the requirement of students in light of COVID-19 in Ethiopia, in Zimbabwe, in Sudan, in Egypt, and also in Morocco. That money I think was paid to the taskforce and was not administered by the ministry [of higher education]. I tried to ask whether it was paid through the minister and they said ‘no’. So we don’t have any information about how it was distributed. The remaining balance which is 1 million we have tabled a request to the ministry of finance so that they are given as promised. We are also in discussion with the authorities in Egypt and Morocco that when the Universities are opened, they are treated like students of that country and they will be also be under that protection.
Q7. Minister Gabriel Changson Lew Chang, thank you for attending this interview and I wish you safe journey back to the Republic of South Sudan.
Answer: Thank you.