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JUBA - 9 May 2021

Private schools threaten to shut down in South Sudan

Proprietors of private schools in South Sudan are threatening to close their institutions if the government does not revoke its decision to reduce school fees for private schools in the country.

South Sudan’s Ministry of General Education and Instruction on Thursday ordered all private schools across the country in a ministerial order to charge day schools annual fees of 80,000 South Sudanese Pounds per student inclusive of all scholastic requirements. 

It further says private boarding schools shall also charge annual fees not exceeding 200,000 SSP and all should be paid in three installments beginning this term.

In response, the heads of private schools on Friday urged the education ministry to withdraw the decision and dialogue with them to reach a healthy settlement.

Speaking to journalists during a press conference in Juba Friday, the Deputy Chairman for South Sudan National Union for Private Schools who also doubles as the Director for St. Lawrence Academy, Mr. Achier Manyaut John, said they will close all private schools in the country if the government continues to impose schools fees for private schools.

“I want to say that all private schools are going to close if one of the private schools is affected by the education ministry’s resolution. If you touch one private school, we are going to close countrywide,” Manyaut said.

He further added that the government did not consult them before making the decision which affects them.

The education ministry says most parents have complained during meetings that some private schools have hiked school fees and demand school fees to be paid in dollars.

The ministerial order also points out that the parents and Parents Teachers Association (PTA) should report to the education authorities in case a school defies the order.

For his part, the Director for African Inland Church, (AIC) Nursery & primary school Nabucha Davson said, "The private sector gives options and a very wide menu where you choose where you can, where you can't. You don’t go there and you can go there. Some are at the extreme of charging USD 700 and USD 500 per term and these are the people the education ministry should be putting in a limit rather than people who are charging 30,000 or 40,000 Pounds per term.” 

The proprietors of private schools say the cost of operating and hiring foreign teachers in the country is very high. Most private schools in South Sudan hire teachers from neighboring countries. 

On Monday this week, the Ministry of General Education and Instruction launched the school reopening in the country 14 months after closure due to the Covid-19 pandemic.