29 March 2011 - In spite of chronic insecurity in the Upper Nile State capital of Malakal, secondary school students began their final Sudan Secondary School Certificate Examinations on Monday morning along with their peers across Sudan.
State Governor Simon Kun Pouch and the State Minister of Education, Science and Technology Mojkawn Kak Ajang visited some of the 27 examination centres in Upper Nile that are located in seven of the state's 13 counties with secondary schools. Those consist of Renk, Manyo, Maban, Melut, Fashoda, Malakal and Baliet counties.
Education Minister Ajang pointed out that students taking the science exams were fewer in comparison to previous years.
"This year the students who are sitting for science subjects are very few because there aren't enough teachers who can teach science subjects," he said, adding that students should remain calm during examinations and study hard to ensure good results.
The results of the two-week exams are expected in June of this year, and students then will be eligible to apply for university admission.
"You should work very hard so that you can score the highest marks," Governor Pouch told students. "You should not be afraid ... you will be the first students in the new universities of the new state of Southern Sudan after 9 July."
Over 4,500 students in Upper Nile State will be sitting for the final exam this year. Nearly 35 per cent of them are girls (1,577), according to the State Minister of Education.
In recent weeks, armed militia groups aligned with Captain Olonyi and renegade Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) General George Athor have clashed with SPLA forces in the Greater Upper Nile region, leaving hundreds dead and wounded.