Two-hundred students from South Sudan are in Zimbabwe on scholarship, thanks to a memorandum of understanding signed between the ministers of education, science and technology of the two countries, that will also see Zimbabweans going to the newly independent country.
South Sudan’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Barnaba Marial Benjamin, said the 200 students will be studying in several of Zimbabwe’s colleges and universities.
“These are South Sudanese students going to study in Zimbabwe in the colleges of engineering, medicine, veterinarian sciences, teacher’s training, also in the area of para-medical services,” Benjamin said.
In turn, Benjamin said Zimbabwean trained teachers, lecturers and nurses will also be heading to his countries, as a result of the agreement.
“We are getting trained teachers both health and education, and Zimbabwe has a large number of those people who are trained. You find them even in the United States, in Britain have loads of trained personnel in those countries, let alone South Sudan where we have high needs.”
South Sudan, which gained its independence from Sudan after a long civil war, in 2011, has been grappling with building its infrastructure which had been devastated from the war. One of the institutions most affected is the health delivery system, which has been unable to prevent deaths during child birth.
Benjamin says Zimbabwe’s experienced nurses who will be going to South Sudan, would help rectify this crisis.
“We need nurses in our hospitals, like midwives, because our maternal mortality rate is very high, so we need to improve the area of women’s health,” Benjamin said.
In addition to rebuilding from the more than 20-year civil war with Sudan that ended in 2005, South Sudan’s efforts to grow as a new country were sidetracked by yet another conflict sparked by the fall out between President Salva Kiir and his former Prime Minister Riek Machar.
Asked if the conflict would not put the lives of Zimbabwean and other country expatriates trying to help rebuild the country, in danger, Benjamin expressed confidence in the current peace negotiations underway, which he said, unlike those in the past, are positive.
“It is absolutely safe,” stressed Benjamin. “We are now implementing a peace agreement, as you know…we’ve already agreed on peace, the advancing of opposition parties, the rebellion, are already inside South Sudan and we are implementing peace process,” Benjamin assured.
In addition to Zimbabwe, Benjamin said South Sudan has signed similar MOU’s with other African countries, including Kenya, Uganda, Egypt, South Africa and Ethiopia.