Abyei schools partially resume amid security challenges

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Abyei schools partially resume amid security challenges
Abyei schools partially resume amid security challenges

Africa-Press – South-Sudan. Authorities in the Abyei Area announced on Tuesday the partial resumption of educational activities in Abyei town and various counties, excluding Rumamer county.

The disputed area of Abyei, marked by severe insecurity, witnessed violent attacks, reportedly carried out by Twic armed youth with support from neighbouring Nuer armed groups, as per official statements.

The South Sudan education calendar mandates the opening of schools on February 5 for the 2024 academic year. However, weeks after the official reopening, deadly clashes erupted involving armed youth linked to Twic county in Warrap state, supported by Nuer armed individuals, and Abyei Titbaai youth. The clashes resulted in the tragic death of 18 people and left 18 others wounded in Rumamer and Alal counties, including Nyinkuec in Abyei town.

The escalation of violence led to a significant displacement of people from Rumamer and Alal counties to Abyei town. Consequently, the Abyei Area Council of Ministers decided to adjourn schools for two weeks until February 26, citing concerns over insecurity and aiming to mitigate the risks, as stated by officials.

Nyinkuany Aguer, the Minister of Education in Abyei, told Radio Tamazuj on Tuesday that schools have resumed session after a two-week hiatus mandated by the government due to security concerns in certain Abyei counties earlier this month.

“In South Sudan, we follow a unified academic calendar where schools typically commence on February 5 after the conclusion of the previous academic year. However, due to the insecurity in Abyei, I submitted a proposal to the Council of Ministers to delay school reopening for two weeks. This decision was made because the southern part of Abyei was significantly affected by conflict, leading to the displacement of residents to Abyei town. Consequently, schools in Abyei resumed their operations on Monday,” he explained.

Nyikuany further stated that while most schools have resumed functioning, one school in Rumamer county remains unable to operate fully until the security situation there improves.

“Despite ongoing security concerns in parts of Abyei, parents are gradually enrolling their children, and residents are slowly returning to their homes, except for Rumamer county, where fear persists. However, children are attending school in other areas except for Rumamer school, which is currently not operational,” the minister clarified.

Bulabek Deng Kuol, the paramount chief of Abyei, confirmed, “Schools were supposed to open on the specified date by the national Ministry of General Education and Instruction. However, insecurity in the rural areas has caused a delay in the functioning of schools. While the security situation in Abyei itself is not that bad, the challenge lies with the displaced people in the counties who are supposed to return, allowing children to resume learning.”

He further explained that displaced individuals are gradually returning one after another, and school-going children in Abyei are currently preparing for the reopening by purchasing school bags and exercise books. Chief Kuol expressed optimism, stating, “Hopefully, next week, they will resume lessons.”

Meanwhile, Ayuel Bol, one of the head teachers at Mul Mul Primary School, stated that they began registration yesterday, Monday. However, they are concerned about the availability of learning space for children in this academic year.

“We were supposed to start on February 5, but due to recent incidents, we were hindered. Authorities from the Ministry of Education instructed us to halt activities until February 26, which was this Monday. Today, Tuesday, we are back to work,” Bol said.

He raised concerns about the lack of space for his learners, as the number of enrolled students exceeds last year’s statistical enrolment in 2023. Bol called on community members to support and expand classes.

“Within two days, we have registered approximately 1,373 boys and girls, compared to 2,531 for the entire academic year of 2023. As the head teacher of Mul Mul School, I am worried about learning spaces. I urge parents to contribute so that extra classes can be created. The recent conflict in southern Kiir River has resulted in this large number,” he appealed.

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