For southern Sudanese, the referendum in January 2010 focused their dreams of more than half a century. The choice: to remain united with the North as one country or to secede. The decision was resoundingly clear: to secede and form a new country.
Their choice was not surprising. For too long, southerners lived as second or third class citizens in Sudan. During two periods of civil conflict, 1955 to 1972 and again, from 1983 to the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) of 2005, more than two million Southerners were killed and another four million were displaced. Many became refugees in Uganda, Kenya, Ethiopia and Congo.
South Sudan became an independent nation on 9 July 2011, facing formidable tasks and challenges to rebuild after years of war and practically zero development, and as refugees flooded back home.
However, there is gradual progress. From 2007 to 2009, primary school enrolment increased by more than 22%, secondary school enrolment by 75%. With increased enrolment, there is a great need for teachers, just as South Sudan needs men and women with other professional skills required for the development of a modern nation and an increasingly complex economy.
The Catholic University of South Sudan was set up in 2007 to train young men and women in skills and expertise the nation desperately needs with sound value education based on Catholic social teachings.
Photo credit: Angela Hellmuth/JRS