JohnAkecSouthSudan

Monday, May 24, 2021

On University’s Social Outreach and Constructive Engagement with the Society



 By John A. Akec

Universities, throughout the globe, have been recognized as public goods; and are charged with the important responsibility of generating new knowledge, and unlocking innovations that advance and increase the prosperity of the societies they serve. Hence, in order to be counted as a world class institution in the 21st century, universities must be seen to be addressing the development concerns of the nation through their tangible and intangible contributions to the society.

 

As aspiring world class learning institution, the University of Juba is called upon to innovate and engage with its surrounding communities. The question is how can we do that? The idea of serving society is not new. Traditionally, universities have been known to carry out three functions: education, research, and service to community. Under the old paradigm, or the so called education 3.0, “community service” was treated as a separate activity that is divorced from education and research functions of the university. However, in the unfolding education 4.0 which will usher in a Fourth Industrial Revolution, community service is integrated into teaching and research, and as an activity in itself. How? we may ask.

 

Let’s recall that education 1.0 started in the ancient times and extended up to the Middle Ages (14th century) and aimed to produce good citizens, involved one-on-one interaction between teacher and student, and was mostly concerned with imparting basic skills of reading, writing, and mathematics. 


Then education 2.0 followed the invention of printing press in 15th century, and allowed one teacher to educate many students at one single time. It enabled one-to-many education, and led to multiplication of learning centres and dissemination of knowledge throughout the world through published books. It extended continued up to 19th century. The invention of computer in the 20th century allowed universities to collaborate globally through communication technologies such as the internet. It led to exponential increase in the demand for higher education globally.


And finally, the advances of information and communication technologies in the 21st century as demonstrated seen by prevalence of mobile internet, social media, cloud technology and big data, massive online courses (MOOCs), the Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, robotics and artificial intelligence, advanced materials, and biotechnology and genomics. All that have ushered in the emergence of education 4.0.


In education 4.0, universities must follow student-centric pedagogies, allow for flexible curricula and learning schedules, prepare students for jobs that are yet unknown in terms of required skill sets, and to embrace life-long learning. The goal of education 4.0 is to prepare students to be global citizens endowed with humanistic elements, values, beliefs, and insights that will make them more effective members of the global village.


This can be pursued at several fronts. At teaching front, a teacher must be a facilitator to student’s learning, as opposed to being a mere content deliverer. Student must be enabled through new pedagogies to interact with the curriculum and the outside world. By so doing, the student will be in position to apply their learned knowledge to tackling developmental challenges facing society.


Second, the research undertaken at our universities should be directed at tackling problems that are relevant to contemporary public developmental concerns. It implies avoiding the usual top-down framing of research questions by a professor, and moving to a collaborative form of research in which questions are framed around the immediate needs of the community. This community-based approach to research allows the stakeholders or the beneficiaries of the research outcomes to contribute in research design.


And thirdly, the goal of social outreach/community service ought to be nurturing active citizenship in our students, and to endow them with humanistic values, empathy, respect, tolerance, and keen consciousness about their responsibility towards society. The students will be prepared to play their roles as global citizen who have respect for other domains of knowledge, and possess ‘learn ability’ skills which is defined as “preparedness to listen to other forms and domains of knowledge, and have humility to open up to new learning succeed in various careers.”


All this is a tall order. Yet, it is a bridge our universities must cross if we are to participate fully in the unfolding Fourth Industrial Revolution, and attain world-class statuses.

Thursday, April 15, 2021

The State of Higher Education and TVET in South Sudan is a Cause for Concern


 

By John A. Akec*

“You can only improve what you can measure”, was one of the wisest things I ever heard coming from the late UN Secretary General, Kofi Annan, the last time I listened to him alive at Africa’s Higher Education Week in Dakar, Senegal, in September 2015.  Mr. Annan was pointing us to the power of data, especially the statistical data, and its ability to reveal gaps and areas for improvements in any meaningful human endeavour. He was certainly onto something. And here is why.

 

Early in the month of April 2021, the Regional Universities Forum for Capacity Building in Agriculture (RUFORUM), published my report entitled: Higher Education and TVET Sector in South Sudan: Gender-based analysis of ST&I ecosystem. RUFORUM, which commissioned the study, is an educational, research, and innovation network of 126 member universities in 38 African countries spread in Eastern, Southern, Central, Western, and Northern Africa, with a headquarter at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda.

 

The report reviewed the literature of the status of higher education, technical vocational education and training (TVET), in addition to science, technology and innovation (ST&I) ecosystems in South Sudan over a period that extends from from the time of signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, to August 2020. Gender-segregated data was collected from 14 institutions of tertiary educations and TVET institutions comprising the academic and non-academic staff head counts, academic ranks, educational attainments of academic staff, number of students enrolled at each institution, student and staff area of specialization, type of degree studied, amongst others. The institutions surveyed comprised five public universities, two private universities; and seven TVET colleges and centres, and community colleges.

 

Key findings of the report leave much to be desired. Firstly, of 38,500 students currently enrolled at 14 institutions of higher education and TVET, about 36,000 (94 percent) of them are in university sector, and only 2,500 (6 percent) are enrolled in TVET and community colleges. it means that the higher education system of South Sudan is ‘top-heavy.’ In contrast, a well-designed tertiary education system should be tiered or differentiated into different levels of academic focus, cost per head of tertiary student, and the ability of students enrolled. A typical higher education system in an Anglophone country, for example, must be ‘bottom-heavy’, meaning the lower you go, the larger number of students it accommodates. The top tier universities focus on research and generation of new knowledge. Top-tier universities are highly resourced, charge higher fees, and admit fewer but most able students. The second-tier universities offer professional courses with prime goal of producing industry-ready graduates. Their prime responsibility is to supply the economy with educated human capital in various areas of specialization. They are relatively affordable and absorb larger number of new university applicants every year. Finally, there are third-tier foundation institutions that offer diverse courses such as vocational training, ICT, engineering, and business studies. Their aim is to produce graduates with skills relevant to local industries. They are easily accessible by communities they serve, and are widely spread. In German and Japanese systems, some institutions are classified as academic universities, and others as universities of applied sciences. The French system has universities and professional schools. Research is conducted at research institutes.

 

Second, women are seriously under represented in all categories imaginable. For example, of 2,600 academics employed in 14 institutions covered by the study, only 338 or 13 percent are females. That is, for every 20 academics employed in our universities and TVET sector, only three are women. Amongst the 73 professors recorded, only 4 are females. And of 1,100 academics that teach sciences, there are merely 165 women (15 percent).  In terms of overall student population, of 10,000 out of 38,000 students enrolled in 2020 (26 percent) are females.

Thirdly, about 19 percent of academics surveyed have PhDs. And 81 percent have no PhDs, and half of them have only bachelor degrees.

 

Among the recommendations made by the report are affirmative action to improve women participation, a move to differentiated system, and providing more scholarships for postgraduate training, and creating scholarships to increase the pool of women in scientists and engineers, among others.

 

* The report is available at https://www.ruforum.org/ruforum-reports

 

Sunday, April 11, 2021

Ezra Group is a forex business, with its electricity outfit providing the conduit

 By John A. Akec

I have come to believe that Ezra Construction and Development Group(Ezra) business model was designed to make huge profits through access to highly discounted foreign exchange rate market. Selling electricity was merely a means to an end. And here is why.

 

The current row over the delayed payment of the dues owed by the Government of South Sudan to Ezra and that has resulted in continuing power blackouts in Juba, has brought the Company under intense public spotlight. It also raised many questions about the nature of the contract, and the business model of Ezra.

 

In a press release published by The Dawn newspaper on 7th April 2021, Ezra warns its customers that “the Juba power plant will cease to operate in the next few days…unless the government … urgently made the US payment as set out in PPA [Power Purchase Agreement] signed on 16th August 2017.” The press statement went on to say that “the Government through both the Ministry of Energy and Dams, and Ministry of Finance and Economic Planning, is contractually obliged to convert the SSP received by JEDCO into US dollars to pay Ezra for electricity it generates. The statement also acknowledged the payment of 15% of its dues, and that the remaining 85% of its claims has been delayed for over 400 days (or 13 months).

 

What is more, the company statement says that the government pledged in January 2021 that the central bank will transfer a sum of USD 3 million into Ezra’s account every month. Obviously, the pledge has not been honored, and hence the current crisis in form of media war by Ezra and the frequent and long power outages being experienced by Ezra's customers over the last week . Intelligent people are bound to ask questions about the terms and conditions of the signed Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) that gave Ezra the monopoly of generating and supplying power to Juba city. Details are sketchy and shrouded in secrecy, but the information coming out into public domain leaves much to be desired.

 

According to well informed sources, Ezra was signed up to invest USD 300 million in 100-Megawatt power generation plants in South Sudan on a build-operate-and-transfer (BOOT) basis for 17 years, starting from November 2019 and until November 2036.  So far, a capacity of 33 Megawatt is claimed to have been installed at an undisclosed cost.

 

It was agreed in the PPA, the story goes,  that Ezra will sell electricity in bulk to South Sudan Electricity Corporation (SSEC), a national public electricity utility company operating under the Ministry of Electricity and Dams, which has been pushed to the margins.  As it turned out, the Ministry of Electricity and Dams, and Ezra Group opted to form a new company - Juba Electric Distribution Company (JEDCO) to replace South Sudan Electricity Corporation (SSEC). Ezra holds majority 52% of shares in JEDCO, while the government, represented by SSEC, has 48% stake. According to an implementation agreement signed with the Ministry of Electricity and Dams, JEDCO buys electricity from Ezra on whole sale at USD 0.373 per 1 Kilowatt-hour (KWh) and sells it to the public at USD 0.420 per 1 KWh or its SSP equivalent.

 

Furthermore, according Ezra, the government of South Sudan agreed to allow JEDCO to exchange its revenues to dollar at official exchange rate which is 75% lower than the parallel exchange rate. That has not worked out as smoothly as was expected. So far (until the time of this writing) Ezra has received USD 6 million from the government of South Sudan since the beginning of the operation. But it owes KCB some USD 9 million in loans, and USD 6.7 million loans to its suppliers; bringing the total debt owed to creditors by Ezra Group to USD 15.7 million. At the same time, Ezra has in its KCB’s account some SSP 6 billion which it is trying to exchange at official exchange rate in order to pay its debts to KCB and suppliers. At parallel market exchange rate, SSP 6 billion is equivalent to USD 9.6 million. And at official exchange rate, it will be a hefty USD 33 million. If paid out at official exchange rate, Ezra can clear all its debts and scoop a profit of USD 14.3 million in its first year of operation. A good business. Or is it?

 

To add to this controversy, a customer spending SSP 5 million a month on Ezra electricity can receive 1,607.6 KWh. This amounts to paying SSP 3,110 per one KWh of electricity, or USD 5.0 per one KWh at parallel market exchange rate of SSP 620 to a dollar. This is 11 times the agreed retail tariff rate. Not only that, Ezra claims that USD million it has received from the government is worth 15% of what is due over 13 months of operation. Meaning, the USD 6 million it has received is out of USD 40 million due in its first year of operation. Multiply that by 17 years, and it works out to a hefty USD 680 million in addition to interest rate adjustment.

 

And that is not all. The network through which Ezra distributes its generated power has been paid for by an African Development Bank's grant of USD 38 million to the government of South Sudan, of which USD 26 has already been spent on the distribution network.

 

Still, that is not all. JEDCO is practically a subsidiary of Ezra, although the government owns 48% of stakes. And despite all this knowledge, Ezra has behaved all along like a 100% percent owner of JEDCO, while using a publicly funded distribution network for free to sell its electricity.

 

Given what we now know, Ezra is practically a lucrative forex business that is selling electricity as means to an end. Hence, there is absolute need for a government’s probe into Ezra’s contract and operations in order to lay bare all the facts; and take measures that will safeguard public interest against Ezra’s monopolistic and exploitative behavior. 

 

Sunday, March 14, 2021

Academic Freedom and Societal Values


 

By John A. Akec*

 

Professor Clark Kerr, the former president of the University of California, Berkley, has described universities in his book, Uses of University, as the ‘cities of intellect.’ The occupants of these cities are professors and students who have devoted their lives to teaching, research, and production of knew knowledge. By mid twentieth century, universities have increasingly assisted the state and served communities around them in some meaningful ways, through the application of knowledge to solve economic and social problems.

 

In the words of Alfred North Whitehead, “the justification for a university is that it preserves connection between knowledge and the zest of life, by uniting the young and the old in an imaginative consideration of learning.” That over the last six centuries, universities have trained the pioneers of human civilization. Especially “the priests, the lawyers, the statesmen, the doctors, the men of science, and the men of letters.” And that the universities have been homes of those ideals which cause men and women to confront the challenges of their times.

 

These ideals have been preserved over the centuries by granting ‘academic freedom’ that included but not limited to freedom of thought and speech for the professor within the walls of university city. Derek Bok, former president of Harvard University, has argued forcefully in Beyond Ivory Tower that the right to speak and write as one chooses is fundamental to individual liberty and is essential in contributing to a stimulating life. And without such liberty, no academic can participate fully in an intellectual exchange that helps in developing one’s own values and outlook of the world, and to exercise the mental faculties of imagination that are uniquely human. That human progress over the centuries has been made possible by major discoveries and advances in knowledge that appeared, at first sight, as unsettling and distasteful to prevailing order. And that only few individuals have the intelligence and imagination, and courage to openly communicate these discoveries.

 

By guarding against the erosion of academic freedom for the professor, universities can ensure an environment in which academics and students can be creative and most productive in expanding the frontiers and increasing the stock of human knowledge.

 

However, academic freedom has constantly come under attack from multiple fronts, chiefly because of the emergence of multiversity in the mid twentieth century that extended the function of university as an institution for teaching and research to include service to community.

 

As a result of this extended function of the university to serve as “an arm of the state” and an instrument for societal service, professors have assisted their countries in war efforts, in designing economic policies, and in solving social problems.

 

That in turn led to the lost of detachment often associated with the academic output. The involvement of professors with society’s affairs has raised serious moral questions when academic scientists assisted in the development of atomic bomb that was used to attack Heroshima, as well as in planning of the fire raids on Tokyo and Dresden in the Second World War.

 

Similarly, students and professors at Columbia University opposed the appointment of Dr. Henry Kissinger as special chair in international relationship in 1977 for his role, as the US Secretary of State, in the bombing of Hanoi, invasion of Cambodia, and lengthening of the Vietnam War. Dr. Henry Kissinger decided not to take up the appointment after all, despite the willingness of Columbia University administration to effect effect it on the principle that Kissinger’s scholarly contribution had nothing to do with his role as a political decision maker. Another case involving moral dilemmas in relation to academic freedom was the decision of City College of New York to bar the English philosopher and mathematician, Bertrand Russell, from lecturing at their college, citing his views deemed immoral as they were perceived to condone extra-marital relations.

 

To close, in author’s view, while universities will continue to protect academic freedom as the pillar of intellectual creativity, we must also bear in mind that as long as universities continue to get involved with societal affairs, academic freedom will come under fire from multiple fronts; not only for political reasons, but also for moral standards the society expects of the academics.

 

*This article was first published in Juvarsity, March 2021

Tuesday, March 02, 2021

The Route to World-Class University Status Way off?


 


By John A. Akec

 

The World Cup competition involves 209 national teams fighting for 32 slots in the grand finale at the end of every four years. The best, if lucky team, wins the coveted gold trophy. Other up runners get trophies of lesser grades as recognition.

 

In the academic world, in contrast, the names of the top 10, 100, 200, or 2000 best performing universities from a list of more than 25,000 existing world universities are published annually in league tables of the world-class universities by non-profit ranking organisations. These organisations include Times Higher Education World University Ranking (THE WUR), Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU), QS World University Ranking, and US News & World Report global ranking. The Times Higher Education (THE) ranking awards 40 percent of points to institutional reputation. Shanghai Jiao Tong league tables, On the other hand, use statistical data to rank universities.

 

Universities with ‘world-class’ status are known for their highly rated research output, their culture of excellence, their great facilities, and their brand names that transcend national borders, according to Cloete and Maan at the University of Stellenbosch, South Africa.

 

While the international league tables fuel global ‘reputational competition’ amongst universities in research performance, some of the indicators and ranking practices have attracted criticism. These include using the number of Nobel prize-winning alumni as a proxy for the research excellence, favouring publications in English, placing the older and wealthier Northern American and European universities at the top of the lists, and ignoring or undervaluing teaching and service to society.

 

Furthermore, about 70 of the 100 top-ranked world universities originate from English-speaking countries. The rankings have been influential in deciding who is eligible to receive scholarship grants, as well as where good scholars head for work or study. Namely, ranking puts less reputable universities at some disadvantage. Fears have been expressed that such competition may eliminate institutional diversity as everyone strives to look ‘like Harvard or Oxford’, a phenomenon called “institutional isomerism.’

 

Nevertheless, league tables can influence the formation of institutional strategies. For example, because of ‘Harvard here syndrome’, German government initiated the Excellence Initiative in 2010 that aimed to concentrate resources in fewer but competitive German universities. It also experimented with awarding ‘foundation status’ to selected universities in order to make them more autonomous and responsive to changing operating environment.

 

Similarly, in Finland, University of Aalto was formed as a merger of Helsinki School of Economics, the Helsinki University of Technology, and University of Arts and Design, in order to pool resources and strive to achieve world-class excellence. 

 

Generally speaking, global ranking tables are dominated by top research universities in industrialised countries, also known as Super RUs. This is a small percentage of all post-secondary institutions and range from 3% out of 3000 universities in China, to 5% out of 4000 universities in US, to 25% out of 100 universities in United Kingdom.

 

For research universities to flourish, national higher education systems are required to differentiate in their missions at post-secondary levels; and to organize and align their programmes and priorities with appropriate missions. Some of our universities could address the growing demand for access, while the flagship universities (Juba, Bahr El Ghazal, and Upper Nile) align their research and academic programs to national economic growth and social development goals, and to connect with national and global knowledge economy. In some communities where uniformity is preferred in order to create equal society, such calls for vertical, as opposed to horizontal differentiation, may fall on deaf ears.

 

Yet make no mistake, the route to world-class, while expanding access, passes through differentiation. A good example of a differentiated higher education system is offered by the US state of California comprising a number of private universities, and public universities with three tier system of ten campuses of University of California with 220,000 students; state universities on 23 campuses with combined student population of 430,000; and an undefined number of open two-year community colleges that enrolled 1.5 million students in 2009.  

 

As for us in South Sudan, the route to gaining world-class status demands that our flagship universities be well led and well governed, have critical mass of talented staff and students, and an unfettered access to financial resources.

 

By the look of things, we are still way off the track.

 


Monday, February 01, 2021

Looking Back and Looking Forward

 By John A. Akec* 

 


The year 2020 was one of a kind for the global community, South Sudan included. It will be remembered for the worst public health crisis in a century due to the outbreak of COVID-19 pandemic caused by SARS-Cov-2 virus. All of us had to cope with the impact of a pandemic that took lives and left economies across the globe in tatters. No country was spared. A second wave of this pandemic is wreaking havoc in parts of the world, aggravated by new variants B.1.1.7 and B.1.351 that are 40% to 74% more contagious, according to a report by The New Scientist, a weekly science magazine.

Looking back, we at the University of Juba had our share of grief and sadness. A number of colleagues died due to various illnesses. They include Professor Aggrey Ayuen Majok, former Vice Chancellor of Dr John Garang Memorial University for Science and Technology and  Rumbek University of Science and Technology, and founding Dean of the School of  Veterinary Sciences at the University of Juba; Mr Simon Monoja Lubang, Associate Professor at the School of Social and Economic Studies, and former Director of Centre for Peace and Development Studies; and most recently Professor Samson Samuel Wassara, former Vice Chancellor of the University of Bahr el Ghazal, two times Dean of School of Social and Economic Studies, and two times Director of the Institute of Peace, Development and Security Studies; Mr Andrea Ahmed Bawal, former and long-serving head of Personnel at University of Juba; Mr Yanga Joseph Lagu, a technician at Department of Fisheries, and so many others. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families and friends.

On a more positive note, we were able to make progress on several fronts. Foremost, our University was able to organize and contribute to national efforts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. We participated in two government’s high level taskforces on COVID-19 and colleagues are still serving on the Medical Advisory Panel (MAP) of the High Level Taskforce on COVID-19.  Our students volunteered in case contacts tracing.  Our technical committee provided public education on how our population can protect itself from the virus. We also collaborated with the UNDP to conduct a rapid socio-economic impact assessment on gender equity in South Sudan due to pandemic which was used to review lockdown policies. 

Last year was also unique in that from February 2020, we had 12-hour power on the main campus, and 24-hour electricity in staff and student residences. We were able to reopen the University amid fears of the pandemic despite losing months of the academic year. And although our University had experienced several student unrests in the past year due to opposition to tuition fees payment, we were able to restore order and calm to the campuses. The crisis enabled us to improve our registration system and student identity cards production capacity.

On infrastructure front, much progress has been achieved to improve our physical environment. These included the inauguration of a renovated Al Sammani Hall in February; expansion of landscaping and paving of the campus; conversion of a store into a 220-seat lecture hall; turning a disused building into engineering laboratory; construction of additional student washrooms; maintenance of 20 seminar rooms with a combined capacity of 400 seats at our Centre of Human Resources Development and Continuing Education (CHRDCE); maintenance of the main chemistry laboratory; maintenance and refurbishing of University Clinic; and launching of a new waste management unit.  At the Customs (Western) Campus, a new gate with improved access was erected; the biotechnology, geology, and physics laboratories were maintained; and solar-powered lighting was installed for improved security at night.

In student residences, washrooms were maintained at girls’ hostel, and an accommodation block with 160-bed capacity was maintained at Ramciel boys’ quarters.

Looking forward, a campus-wide Wi-Fi internet connection will be launched in February 2021; more student washrooms at both campuses will be maintained or added; buildings at the School of Computer Science and Information Technology will receive a face-lift; and access to our main administration building will be enhanced, among others. 

Last but not least, we have recognized colleagues who made very significant contributions to the life of the University in 2020. I also thank every single staff of our University for making valuable contributions in 2020. I am very sure 2021 will come with challenges, but also  exciting opportunities and blessings. Best wishes for a happy new year.   

 *First published in JUVARSITY News Letter, January 2021

Monday, December 07, 2020

.Mass Higher Education Expands Opportunities for All

By John A. Akec


The Juba Monitor Newspaper published in its 13th November 2020 issue an opinion article with a title suggesting that the vice chancellor of the University of Juba had informed yet to be named audience that ‘education is not for the poor’, without explaining precisely when and in which occasion or medium this statement was released. I wrote to the editor of Juba Monitor, Anna Nimiriano, asking her to present a proof that my office released such a statement, or she owes me an apology. I am still waiting for a response.   

This message is not meant to be a rebuttal of what the Juba Monitor has published, although in itself is a cause worth pursuing in other occasions. Instead, my message is intended to shed light on the aims and cost of providing mass higher education, which has become the tool for social mobility and inclusion for the under privileged members of any society.  

 To begin with, it is reasonable to speculate that by demanding that students pay their tuition fees without exception, the University of Juba may be seen as pursuing a tuition fee policy whose unintended consequence may lead to the exclusion of those from lower income brackets of society. In other words, making tuition fees a prerequisite for accessing higher education irrespective of incomes of the families, can be interpreted as another way of saying ‘education is not for the poor.’ Many can find this sentiment convincing. Yet nothing could be farther from the truth.  

The advent of mass higher education is not new. It started in the US and Western countries following the end of the World War II, as a means of increasing access to university and college education for wider sectors of society, especially poorer families and war veterans. By the turn of the twentieth century, Western countries had moved from ‘mass higher education’ to ‘universal higher education’ on the same par with primary and secondary education in order to create ‘nations of educated people.’   

The idea of mass higher education came to Africa quite late, and is still taking shape. Historically, African countries inherited elitist colonial university systems, modeled after British Oxford and Cambridge, and French Grande Ecoles. Their sole purpose was to train colonial administrators and political leaders for post-colonial era. They were never designed to be inclusive, comprehensive, nor development orientated. Higher education was free and benefited a tiny fraction and most able, or most privileged members of the society. By early 1980s, expanding university education to accommodate larger numbers of students proved financially unsustainable for most African governments.   

Moreover, a World Bank’s publication authored by George Psacharospoules and colleagues in 1986 argued that investment in general education renders higher returns than tertiary education, and recommended a financing policy that gave preference to general education over higher education as part of Structural Adjustment Policy (SAP) for heavily indebted countries. It also called for cost-sharing in order to finance the massifcation of higher education through payment of tuition fees; and advocated for the opening up of higher education market to private sector investment.   

Because the Sub Sahara African countries could not devise sustainable financing policies for expansion of their higher education systems, the sector stagnated between the mid 1980s and early 2000s. It also resulted in the continent trailing behind the rest of world in terms of university enrolment ratios. On the other hand, Asian and Latin American countries, as well as Russia, found ways to expand their higher education systems in 1990s and 2000s through cost sharing and privatization, in line with World Bank recommendations. But African countries have begun to catch up with massification.  

Here at the University of Juba, we have a 15-year master plan (2015-2030) that aims to “increase access to quality higher education.” As a result, our student population has risen from 10,000 in March 2014 to over 22,000 by September 2020. This is expected to rise further to 60,000 by 2030.  This expansion will not be realised without contribution from students and their families in form of tuition fees. The government will continue to contribute a lion share of financing in order to make university education affordable to broader sectors of our citizens, as opposed to providing ‘free higher education’ which is not sustainable.    

I wish you all a very happy Christmas