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South Sudan forum backs anti-poverty research

A body for academics in South Sudan wants to promote research that contributes to the reduction of poverty, underpins evidence-based policymaking and evaluates whether policies work, says its head, John Akec.

The Academics and Researchers Forum for Development (ARFD) held a conference on the future of higher education in the capital, Juba, from 14 to 15 November.

Speaking from Juba, Akec, vice-chancellor of the newly established University of Northern Bahr-El-Ghazel in South Sudan, said that South Sudan’s higher education system needed to be fixed but that money was lacking.

“The challenge is how to open more colleges and universities when we do not have staff and money,” he said.

The 11-member ARFD would try to boost funding for science, he added. He said that priority must be given to higher education to provide social justice and attract the best academics in the region.

“South Sudan can not afford progression into the future if it ignores science and technology. We have to explore suitable funding models for students and research,” he said.

ARFD had ideas that could drive a fruitful generation and application of knowledge and skills to solving the new nation’s social and economic problems, Akec said. For instance, oil revenues could be used to boost funding for universities and research.

The November meeting also discussed the establishment of a Council for Higher Education in South Sudan.