JUBA – The office of South Sudan’s First Vice President has trashed accusations from five lawmakers allied to vice-president Taban Deng Gai that the Dr. Riek Machar Teny who is also the SPLM-IO leader is behind obstruction of primary eight examinations in some areas in Jonglei and Upper Nile state that are under the control of the main armed opposition group.
Last week, the ministry of education said some parts of Jonglei and Upper Nile state won’t take part in primary eight certificate examinations after general education ministry agents were allegedly detained by opposition fighters saying the actions inside SPLM-IO controlled areas threatens examiners, the students and the credibility of exams itself.
In a public letter to Machar on Friday, lawmakers Bor Gatwech, Paul Pur, Lydia John Jock, Martha Martin and Michael Ruot Koryom, all of whom allied to vice-president Taban Deng Gai, claimed that Machar was the all issue obstructing examinations after a number of meetings with the ministry of general education ended with that conclusion, beside an unsuccessful attempt to meet Machar.
Reacting to the accusations, Machar’s office denied it is behind the obstruction of exam and said the lawmakers were biased in their conclusion pointing out that the ministry of education did not coordinate the process with the SPLM-IO after the group reportedly directed security organs in the opposition controlled areas to cooperate with the ministry of education.
“We in the Press Unit in the Office of the First Vice President have just learned, with dismay, that about five individual MPs from the Transitional National Legislative Assembly of the ‘former’ government under the defunct ITGoNU, have released a misleading statement,” the statement seen by Sudans Post reads in part.
“The statement, said to have been written on Monday, 5th February, 2021 (incorrect date) was trying to informally and unjustly justify the basis for a decision by the Ministry of General Education and Instructions to deny over 800 children from sitting for Primary 8 Examinations in a number of selected counties in Upper Nile and Jonglei States, or areas under the control of the SPLM!/SPLA (IO),” it added.
The statement further said the accusations were wrong because the minister of education “spoke with the First Vice President on phone about the matter. It was neither a meeting conducted in person nor did they meet many times as the letter falsely alleged. In that phone conversation, the Hon. Minister was reassured by the SPLM/SPLA (IO) leadership that the safety of the Examiners and Examinees including the conducive atmosphere for the Examinations will be fully taken care of. There was that understanding in their conversation.”
“Recent meetings between the leadership of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) and international partners and Envoys further concluded that the children in the selected areas should do the Exams like the rest in the country. This was too publicized! The leadership reassured the safety for all those who will be involved in the exercise. After all, there are certain degrees of insecurity in many parts and regions of the country, not exclusively in the areas controlled by the SPLM/SPLA (IO). Some other areas are worse compared with the mostly peaceful areas controlled by the SPLM/SPLA (IO). It is the collective responsibility of the R-TGoNU to ensure security and safety of all. Rumours of harassment and torture of Examiners in the areas under the control of the SPLM/SPLA (IO) were either concocted or exaggerated.
“The authors of the letter seem to have not consulted the Office of the First Vice President in order to inform themselves on the understanding reached on matter of the Examinations. Their findings are so bias. We couldn’t understand what they were trying to score by that erroneous statement.
“All children in South Sudan have the right to education, the right to sit for the Primary 8 school Examinations without any discrimination. ITGONU, with all its Parties to the R-ARCISS, are responsible for ensuring that the Examinations succeed in all areas in the Republic of South Sudan. The SPLM/SPLA (IO) leadership had already instructed security organs in their respective areas to ensure the safety of all involved in the exercise. But it is also equally important to coordinate movements of those involved.”