South Sudan is considered one of the most under-developed places in the world — photo by Pete Willows for Bikya Masr.

CAIRO: According to a report by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the percentage of students who passed their basic examinations in Upper Nile State is down from last year, according to results announced today by the state government’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.

Nearly 10,000 students took their exams at 40 testing centers spread across the state last month, said Minister Mojkwan Kak Ajang, and 56 percent of them earned passing grades.

That is a drop from the 60 percent who passed their exams in 2011, and the minister blamed the decline on overcrowded classrooms, a poor environment in the state overall for education and a shortage of qualified teachers to prepare the students for the tests.

Ajang also noted a variation in exam results along regional lines within Upper Nile State.

“The results are better in the northern part of the state than in the southern part,” he said. “These schools are mainly private schools run by religious institutions, where the classes have chairs and tables for pupils to use.”

The 9,644 students who sat for their exams this year represented a 41 percent increase over the 6,857 who did so in 2011, a jump that the minister attributed to the large influx of returnee families into Upper Nile State after voters in Sudan’s ten southern states voted overwhelmingly to secede from the country in January 2011.

Owing to that development, students could choose to take their exams in Arabic under the old curriculum issued by authorities in Khartoum or in English under the new curriculum introduced in South Sudan last year. Adult students sat for exams under an alternative education curriculum.

The ratio of male to female students who passed their exams was roughly three to two, and Ajang read out the names of the students who achieved the ten highest test scores.

The minister also acknowledged the support received from UNICEF for improving classroom conditions and the UN World Food Program for supporting school feeding schemes.


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