It’s been quite a month for South Sudanese living in various countries around the world; this month could change everything for them. Between January 9 and 15, they went to the polls to give an opinion on whether the South should formally split from the North.
The final tally is to be announced in the middle of February, but today, the New York Times reported preliminary results showing that out of three million people, 99 percent voted for secession.
What does this mean? I asked my friend Sam, a refugee from the Sudanese civil war. He said it meanspeace. Forced to flee his home at age 7, Sam has waited all his life for peace to come to Sudan.
“It will take time,” he says,” but education will be better. A peaceful country means education.”
Once there is peace in South Sudan, he says, several things will happen to education:
- It will receive more attention from the government. The government of South Sudan will focus less on war and more on education, in terms of planning and the national budget. Sam says that currently, many teachers in South Sudan are unpaid; they simply teach out of their good will. This, of course, leaves teachers who sometimes don’t show up for school, meaning school doesn’t take place that day.
- Its quality will increase. When the country is safer and able to pay teachers, qualified and more highly educated teachers from neighboring countries will seek teaching jobs in South Sudan. This will provide better education for Sudanese students.
- It will receive help from highly educated Sudanese. Many Lost Boys — refugees from Sudan’s civil war — will be allowed to return home, often having earned advanced degrees in their countries of asylum. “I have not yet met a Lost Boy who doesn’t want to go home and invest in education,” says Sam, a Lost Boy himself.
- It will benefit from lasting effects of a stable economy. The Western world will have more confidence to invest in Sudan when it proves its stability, and this will trickle down even to under-resourced students in rural areas.
You can pray! Praise God for an amazingly peaceful, fair voting process! Pray for continued peace and improved education for Sudan’s children.
And if you feel so inclined, get yourself this awesome t-shirt.