Students worry about upcoming exams

As candidate classes have resumed, students worry they will not learn all they need in time for the final exams.

By Helene Sandbu Ryeng
An adolescent girl in a face mask turns around in her chair while at a desk in a classroom
UNICEF South Sudan/2020/Chol
23 November 2020

JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN – “It is really good that we are back to school because we are catching up with our classes and willing to finish,” says Nyajima Mut (17). She has missed going to school and interacting with her teachers at Darling Wisdom Academy and is excited about being back.

On 20 March 2020 schools in South Sudan were closed as a COVID-19 prevention measure and approximately 2 million children were unable to go to their regular classes. When we met Nyajima in May, she was worried that her dream of studying medicine would be ruined as she is in her final year on primary level and getting good marks matter.

In accordance with the decision from the Ministry of General education and Instruction and with support from UNICEF and education partners, candidate classes resumed in October which includes Nyajima’s class. Even though she loves being back at school she still worries.

“Our teachers are doing the best to prepare us for our final exams. So, we are really praying hard that the exams are not coming too soon.”

At Nile International Academy, Daniel Ajuei Garang is taking notes as the teacher is lecturing from the blackboard. “It has been too long,” he says referring to the school closure.

Students at desks in a classroom
UNICEF South Sudan/2020/Chol
Daniel, 17, (right) in a classrooms with fellow students studying during their first day back at school.

“In the school we are taking a lot of measures to prevent the coronavirus. One of them being wearing masks, social distancing, washing of hands, hand sanitizers, and always being aware of not having flu-like symptoms when entering school.”

Even though preventing the spread of COVID-19 is important to Daniel, his upcoming exams is what is constantly on his mind. “The exams are coming too close. Already in May next year. I’m not sure if we will be able to cover as much information as we could if we were in school,” Daniel says with worry in his voice.

An adolescent boy holds up his hands
UNICEF South Sudan/2020/Chol
Daniel, 17, shows his clean hands after washing with clean water and soap before entering the class during their first day at school after classes resume on Tuesday, October 27, 2020 in Juba.

Nyajima is more worried about the many students that have dropped out of school. “The COVID has impacted on us girls. Most girls have dropped out of school, many of them are now mothers to be. They got pregnant during the lockdown.”

Based on UNICEF’s experience, these girls will be very difficult to get back to school unless extraordinary measures are taken. UNICEF is also worried about the many children who will remain out of school until all classes have resumed in April 2020, as they have been out of school for more than a year. The longer children are out of school, the harder it is to get them back to the classrooms.

The Government of Norway has provided USD 10 million in support of education in South Sudan, hoping as many children as possible will return to learning.

“The contribution from the Government of Norway comes at the perfect time,” said the Minister of General Education and Instruction Hon Awut Deng Acuil. “Too many children are already missing out on education. As a country, we cannot afford for more children to be left behind and therefore we are thankful for the support from Norway.”

Back at Nile International Academy, Daniel is studying hard while feeling the pressure of exams approaching fast. “My plan for the exam is to study as much as possible keep on reading every day and hope that I’m ready for the time when I sit down for the exams,” he says.

Nyajima will also give it her all. “It is our duty to fight for ourselves. We should do whatever we can in our power to achieve our dreams in the future.”

UNICEF has supported the Ministry of General Education and Instruction in reopening of schools in a safe way. UNICEF is grateful for the support from Education partners such as the EU, the Global partnership for Education, the Government of Norway, UK Aid and USAID.