By Arech Deng Akook.
According to the English Oxford's Dictionary, Youth is the period when the person moves from dependence (childhood) to independence (adulthood). It also defines Childhood as the period when the person hasn't yet attained the youth age of 18 years plus whereas Adulthood is the state of being an adult who is a fully grown person and is legally responsible for his/her action(s).
According to the census of 2008, South Sudan is inhabited by Thirteen (13) million people; of which 72% of the above mentioned population are youths. 21% out of 72% are only believed to be literate and the rest are illiterate. Only 5% are believed to have reached tertiary education level and the rest are primary and secondary dropouts due to longest war fought with the Arab regime in the Sudan which didn't allow many Southerners to access tertiary education. 1% of those who reached tertiary level is roughly estimated to have lost the life in 2013 and 2016 conflicts respectively. If the above research is to be true, that means we have only 4% out of 21% of literate rate to have attained documents from Universities and other higher institutes of learning.
In reference to the letter sent by Steering committee for South Sudan National Youth Union to the states Ministries of Information, Culture, Youth and Sport demanding them to nominate five delegates in collaboration with States Youth Unions to participate in SSNYU's second (2nd) Convention with the criteria set forth. However, two conditions surprisingly appeared in the circular (paragraph b & c).
The paragraph "b and c" require the delegate to be between the ages of 15-34 and should at least have Diploma from recognized University respectively.
As I said earlier on that the Youth age range from 18-45 years according to the 2008 census. This definition is also adopted by SSNYU's Transitional Constitution, 2015. As so far we know the definition of Youth vary from jurisdiction to jurisdiction, South Sudan is deemed to uphold the above definition stipulates in SSNYU's Transitional Constitution, 2015 since the Transitional Constitution of South Sudan 2011 as amended is silent on a legal definition of youth. And section 5 of Child Act,2008 defines Child as a human being under the age of eighteen years. As such, the steering committee is working harder to denied many youth of their inalienable right of participating in youth activities as granted in Article 25(3)(a) and 26(1) of TCSS, 2011( as amended 2015). Art.25(3)(a) says "No association or Union shall function as a political organization at the National or state level unless it has its membership open to any South Sudanese irrespective of religion, gender, age, ethnic origin or place of birth and Art. 26(1) stipulates that "every citizen shall have the right to take part in any level of government and/or Youth activities directly or through freely chosen representatives, and shall have the right to nominate himself or herself or be nominated for a public post or office in accordance to this Constitution and the law. Hence the steering committee are working in defiance of the above cited Articles which is unconstitutional and it could be an attempt to discourage many youth who will be the victims of these criteria and they will end up contributing negatively to the nation building since they are socially neglected or socially outcasted. Moreover, paragraph "b" deserves to be disqualified and people should return to the normal Youth's definition of 18-45 years old because we don't want any law that we will socially discriminate our Youth.
Ladies and Gentlemen, let's come to paragraph "c" which requires a delegate to at least have a diploma from a recognized University. Well, as the research has already shown us that only 4% out of 21% of literate Youth have only reached tertiary level of education. That mean, privileges and rights should only be enjoyed by 4% ( those who reached Universities). The steering committee failed to understand that participation in SSNYU does not require qualification since it is not a technical work.
Dear readers, allow me to cited some Articles from our mother law ( TCSS, 2011 as amended) to make you convinced that to holds position or to participate in any activity (non-technical activities)in South Sudan doesn't require you to have Diploma or Bachelor or any kind of its equivalent but it requires you only to be literate ( without specification). For instance, take a look at article 98(d) and 62(d) of TCSS, 2011 as amended which require the candidate for president and candidate for membership of National Legislative Assembly to be be literate ( without specification) respectively. Behold! The steering committee is denying the students who are still studying at Universities level to be delegated for SSNYU's convention; without knowing they are denying those who have already qualified to be MPs by Law. Therefore the above requirements are not in conformity to the TCSS, 2011 as amended; as stipulated in article 3(3) of TCSS, 2011 that the states' Constitutions and all laws shall conform to this Constitution; meaning, no law shall be enacted contrary to this Constitution. Hence,I reviled this overhasty decision designed to ostracize majority youth from participating in Youth's activities.
More importantly, the mandate of the steering committee was not to make an amendment to the Constitution but their mandate was only limited to collecting lists of delegates from their respective states. Amendment of the Constitution is a process which needs a lot of work to be done; for instance, Proposal for amendment of the Constitution should be made by the General Assembly, Constitution review and amendment committee should be formed, call General Assembly for deliberation and passed it into law after 2/3 majority seconded it. Look! Is it not a long process that should not be done unilaterally by the group of seven people who are not Constitutionally mandated. What matters a lot in Law is not an action but the process. In other words, lawful act could be unlawful if you used unlawful procedures and the unlawful act could also be lawful if you used lawful procedures to reach that decision. As such, I am not questioning their action but the procedures are critically in question.
I would like to make it clear to the steering committee that "success doesn't require higher formal education; if you have the zeal to succeed, you can reach the zenith without any degree. Breaking the myth that success requires formal education, here are some of the great men in the history of mankind who have never been to college.
Winston Churchill; he had never been to college but his lack of a graduation certificate didn't deter him from becoming the Prime Minister of Great Britain. He also played a significant role in WW2 by leading the Britain away from the brink of defeat. He did wonders without a graduation certificate!!
George Washington; He managed to be the first President of the United States of America without a graduation certificate and he also did wonders!!
Abraham Lincoln; he has no formal education but he has become a successful president of USA who guided the Nation at her darkest phase. He is also a successful attorney. He did the the wonders!
Frederick Douglas; from a slave to becoming the voice of the African-American community. The man without formal education has become the most influential African-American of the nineteenth century. He did wonders without a graduation certificate!!
Many other African leaders did the wonders without a graduation certificate; for instance, Jacob Zouma of South Africa, Omer al-Bashir of the Sudan, Abdelaziz Bouteflika of Algeria and etc. They all did the wonders without a graduation certificate!!
Imagine, if the above mentioned personalities performed their duties satisfactorily, then why not our Youth in South Sudan. I think I share the same conviction with many South Sudaneses that illiterate Youths need to be included in Youth's activities if we want to transform them into productive Youths instead of socially ostracizing them.
The best way to fight the issues of Torontoro, cattle raiding, Arrow boys, child abducting and kidnapping, Roads ambushing and banditry is to include such frustrated and illiterate Youths in Youth's landmark organizations and decisions to participate. Exclusion of such youths is adding salt to the wound in other way around because they will keep contributing negatively to our Nation.
Therefore, I urged the steering committee to revisit its decision and adjusted it to the wishes of our environment since they were not mandated to amended the Constitution. Otherwise, the Hon. Minister of Culture, Youth and Sport or NLA should intervene for the best interest of South National Youth Union and the Nation as a whole.
Lastly but not the least, I appealed to South Sudan Youths in general to keep the hope of our Nation alive and make South Sudan better but not bitter. I also humbly requested them to form security wall around South Sudan's hopes and dreams in order to block those with ill intentions against us from infiltrating.
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