Cleric in South Sudan Calls on Government to Reopen Schools amid COVID-19 Lockdown

Fr. Emmanuel Sebit, Secretary General of Yei Diocese South Sudan.
Credit: Radio Bakhita South Sudan

The Secretary General of the South Sudan’s Yei Diocese has backed calls by international agencies to re-opening learning institutions in the country, saying that keeping pupils at home during the COVID-19 lockdown only exposes them to danger.

Speaking to Emmanuel Radio of the Catholic Radio Network (CRN) in South Sudan Wednesday, August 12, Fr. Emmanuel Lodongo Sebit referenced the August 1 killing of three children in Juba and other reported killings of children in the East-Central African country and said that were the children in school, they would not have met with the cruelty.

“I strongly support the UN agencies, especially UNICEF and UNESCO in regard to the children and the reopening of schools,” Fr. Emmanuel said and added, “If schools were opened and in case the children were at school, the three children slain in Juba recently would have not died; they would have been found at school.”

Early this month, two United Nations agencies advised the South Sudanese government to consider reopening schools , a call that the Director for education in the metropolitan Archdiocese objected and proposed that stakeholders hold sober consultations on how to go about safely reopening schools amid the pandemic.

In an interview with ACI Africa Monday, August 3, the head of education in the Archdiocese of Juba, Fr. Gabriel Asida proposed, “Before responding to the appeal on the reopening of schools, there is a need for us (education partners) to sit down as counterparts of the ministry of education.”

But according to Fr. Emmanuel, schooling needs to resume in the country where learners are losing a lot, unable to adopt virtual learning platforms to stay at par with their counterparts in other countries.

“Our country is not like other countries, here we have MTN, Zain (telecommunication companies). Sometimes we access the mobile network, sometimes we don’t,” he said.

He added, “In other countries, children are going ahead with studies; they are at home with electronics but we don’t have them. We are disabling the future of our children when we allow them to continue staying idle at home.”

The Secretary General of Yei Diocese noted that through sensitization programs, parishioners would be able to control the young ones from contracting the coronavirus.

The South Sudanese Cleric further cautioned that without educating the children, the future of South Sudan would be upsetting because it would only produce unproductive citizens.

On his part, the former Yei State Administrator Amule Felix Sosthene expressed optimism that learning institutions in the country could be reopening soon.

“The government has realized that COVID-19 is not going away any time soon and requires good decision making by leaders to overcome the situation. Most of the social economic activities in the country stopped due to the pandemic,” Mr. Amule said.

He added, “If a survey is conducted today, a number of school girls may be found pregnant due to closure of the learning institutions.”


ACI Africa was officially inaugurated on August 17, 2019 as a continental Catholic news agency at the service of the Church in Africa. Headquartered in Kenya’s capital, Nairobi, this media apostolate will strive to facilitate the telling of Africa’s story by providing media coverage of Catholic events on the African continent, giving visibility to the activities of the Church across Africa where statistics show significant growth in numbers and the continent gradually becoming the axis of Catholicism. This is expected to contribute to an awareness of and appreciation for the significant role of the Church in Africa and over time, the realization of a realistic image of Africa that often receives negative media framing.

Father Don Bosco Onyalla
Editor-in-Chief, ACI Africa
[email protected]