The government and its partners have launched a reconstruction works on Upper Nile University on Saturday in Malakal, Central Upper Nile State, a joint statement by UNDP and the Embassy of Japan has said.
In April this year, the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Technology, the Embassy of Japan in South Sudan and UNDP signed an agreement to support the reconstruction of the Upper Nile University’s Malakal campus and the establishment of the University of Juba Cultural Centre.
In a joint statement by UNDP and the Embassy of Japan, the ground-breaking ceremony was attended by a high-level delegation of government, academic, and UN officials in Malakal on 29 June 2019.
The statement stated that the refurbishment work will focus on key facilities of the main campus aimed at enabling students specializing in Economics, Human Development, Public Health, and Education to be able to relocate back to their home campus.
It added that the project localizes recovery and resilience efforts taking place across South Sudan, involving a broad network of stakeholders across government, the donor community, civil society actors, UN agencies and academia, including the Partnership for Recovery and Resilience.
Speaking during the groundbreaking ceremony, the Minister of Higher Education, Science, and Technology, Yien Oral said that his ministry together with partners will keep the momentum.
“Today our dreams are becoming reality, work is kicking off and we will continue to keep the momentum moving forward together until this job is done,” Mr. Oral said during his remarks at the ceremony.
The minister appreciated the people of Japan and their government, and UNDP for their commitment to restoring Upper Nile University.
For his part, the governor of Central Upper Nile State, Peter Chol Wal said the return of University to Malakal is a sign of prosperity.
“It is true that the return of the university is a sign of life and a sign of prosperity returning back to our town. This groundbreaking shows readiness not only for the return of the university but of any of those from this region ready to return,” Mr. Chol said.
“The time is now for rebuilding and you have my assurances of the highest regard that the government of Central Upper Nile State will ensure the security of the rehabilitation works as well as maintain the peace in Malakal town,” the governor added.
For his part, Hon. Samson Ezekiel Ndukpo, the Chairperson of the Specialized Committee for Education, Science and Technology of the National Parliament, said the return of Upper Nile University will not only benefit students but also the entire community.
“Universities are important centers of research and development and we are sure the restored Upper Nile University will bring this type of support to the community upon its return,” said Mr. Ezekiel.
Mr. Ezekiel acknowledged the university as one of the five prestigious institutions of higher education in South Sudan.
Meanwhile, the Chairperson of the Upper Nile University Council Dr. Samson Samuel Wasara said the university will impart knowledge to young men and women to move the country forward.
“Once this campus is reconstructed, the university will impart knowledge to our young men and women, our future, who need the skills and expertise to move our country forward.”
“With support from partners, we now see hope and we see light, because of your concern and devotion to see this university through,” said Dr. Samuel.
The Ambassador of Japan to South Sudan, Seiji Okada said that the return of students and personnel will be the key.
Ambassador Okada said he hopes the reconstruction work will also offer local people job-opportunities.
“We are very glad to support the reconstruction of Upper Nile University as we see the importance of education. It is also symbolic of the on-going peace process, which Japan is supporting, and restoration of security in the region,” Ambassador Okada said.
“The return of 5,000 students and personnel will be the key, and we hope it offers local people job-opportunities and will benefit people across the country.”
“We hope to see reconstruction completed quickly and I hope to return to Malakal very soon with our dedicated partners for an inauguration of the campus,” said Ambassador Okada.
For his part, UNDP Resident Representative, Dr. Kamil Kamaluddeen said the project will use local materials and local labour.
“The project will seek to use local materials and local labour to accomplish the reconstruction requirements,” said Dr. Kamaluddeen.
“Rebuilding Upper Nile University is not about restoring to a previous starting point, but about building back better.”
“This university, and the wider Upper Nile region, must become places where people wish to return – not for physical structures – but for opportunities to pursue their dreams: to work, to earn a decent income, and to provide for their families.”
“Part of the way that UNDP does business is to ensure and see to it that the local communities are benefiting. We want to put that multiplier effect in action here,” said Dr. Kamaluddeen.
Head of UNMISS Malakal Field Office, Ms. Hazel Dewet emphasized the importance of bringing to bear humanitarian and development operations to Upper Nile.
Ms. Dewet highlighted that UNMISS supported more than 300 young people in vocational skills training applicable to the reconstruction works.
“We look forward to seeing a significantly large development of the community here and look forward to more opportunities to create an enabling environment for returnees to go back to their home communities,” said Ms. Dewet.
The ceremony was presided over by the Minister of Higher Education, Science and Technology, Yien Oral, the Ambassador of Japan to South Sudan, Seiji Okada, UNDP Resident Representative Dr. Kamil Kamaluddeen, and Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs at Upper Nile University, Dr. Yoanes Edward A. Kugo.
Other high-level delegations include; the National Minister of Roads and Bridges, Rebecca Joshua Okwaci, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science and Technology Dr. Adil Athanaziou Suru; the representative of the Chairperson of the Specialized Committee for Education, Science and Technology of the National Parliament, Hon. Samson Ezekiel Ndukpo, and the Chairperson of the Upper Nile University Council Dr. Samson Samuel Wasara; and Head of UNMISS Malakal Field Office, Ms. Hazel Dewet.
The delegation was hosted by the Governor of Central Upper Nile State, Peter Chol Wal.
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