Various South Sudanese students in tertiary institutions together with the South Sudan Students Association in Kenya (SSSAK) members today threatened to close their embassy in Nairobi if they were not given their annual support funds as approved by the National Parliament.
The students blocked the South Sudan’s ambassador to Kenya Mr. Michael Majok’s car from leaving the compound and demanded him to address their grievances hence forcing him to go back to the office.
The SSSAK officials informed Gurtong that a delegation from the National Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology in South Sudan including the Undersecretary, Director of External Relations and Training and the Education Attaché arrived in Nairobi with the money and were expected to disburse it today.The morning standoff between SSSA officials and the students barricaded the main entrance to the storey building housing the embassy; the students claimed that their officials were not telling the truth. Chol Gabriel, one of the students asked, “Why is the embassy not shut down if by today the funds have not been released?”
According to the SSSAK officials, the delegation allegedly deceived and duped them and left for Juba early this morning, a move that annoyed the student’s fraternity. “There are over 500 payment forms filled by students and handed over to the education attaché Mr. Gorge Ali, but we were shocked that the team decided to close and leave for Juba, the Education Attaché also disappeared but we will look for him and hold him accountable,” explained the SSSA Secretary General Mr. Kocrup Makwach.
Gurtong interviewed a number of students during the demonstration who claimed that they haven’t paid their school fees, done their exams and some cant receive their examination results due to lack of school fees.
The National parliament of South Sudan approved the annual support funds for students under private scholarships in order to benefit tertiary education students in Kenya, Egypt, Uganda and Ethiopia.
According to the SSSAK chair, the funds amount to 532, 000 USD and was to be disbursed to 1, 633 South Sudanese students in Kenya’s colleges.
The SSSA officials also claimed that the disbursement committee agreed to pay them after coordinating the filling of payment forms but they had not being paid too.
Mr. Kocrup Makwach informed his colleagues that the SSSAK’s closed door meeting with the Ambassador resolved that Mr. George Ali will be tracked down and a meeting to be held tomorrow to solve the matter but the students denied and demanded to be paid today. “We demand full investigations on the disbursement team in Juba, and the embassy here in Kenya, this is corruption,” Chol Gabriel demanded and was echoed by his colleagues.
The students vowed to continue with the demonstrations in the next one week until their demands are addressed. The embassy officials refused to comment on the matter.
A similar allegation on embezzlement of student funds was reported in Uganda early September this year. This prompted the South Sudan government to change the processes of awarding scholarships to students due to lack of transparency and corruption at the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology.