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RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:

From Zimbabwe, we head to South Sudan. It's been almost a year since that country gained independence from its northern neighbor, ending a two-decade civil war, which displaced thousands of people. South Sudan's education system is still feeling the effects of the conflict. NPR's Ofeibea Quist-Arcton talked with students there about their hopes and views about their new homeland, and she brings us this audio postcard.

(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE SINGING)

OFEIBEA QUIST-ARCTON, BYLINE: Students at Good Hope Basic Primary School in Bentiu, in oil-rich Unity State near the contested border, sing South Sudan's new national anthem with gusto.

(SOUNDBITE OF PEOPLE SINGING)

VERONICA NYERIEK: Guests of honor, ladies and gentlemen. It's Good Hope Primary School. Ready to introduce ourselves. My name is Veronica Nyeriek. I am 15 years old.

JAMES RAN BIEL: My name is James Ran Biel. I'm 14 years old.

QUIST-ARCTON: You might expect to find rather young students at a primary school here in Bentiu, but among the little ones are a number in their late teens. For many, their schooling has been interrupted by war. And 17-year-old Dalat Stephen Kuong blames Sudan's cross-border air strikes for the continuing troubles.

DALAT STEPHEN KUONG: Right now, even the northern Arabs, they are still bombarding us. Even in school, we don't have any children at school because they are fearing those Arabs.

QUIST-ARCTON: Dhoal Thuol Khan is 19. Like Dalat Stephen Kuong, he's pretty intense about Sudan, whom both accuse of restarting the conflict, a charge the north denies.

DHOAL THUOL KHAN: They are always attacking us, bombing our children, and even now there are some other schools not yet open because of this war.

QUIST-ARCTON: James Ran Biel, who's 14, tells me he's proud to be a citizen of South Sudan.

RAN BIEL: Yes, of course, I'm proud.

QUIST-ARCTON: Fifteen-year-old Veronica Nyeriek echoes the same theme.

NYERIEK: In my land, I want to be a good citizen and I want to be a leader.

QUIST-ARCTON: Gathered in this classroom, Dhoal Thuol Khan says education means you can be free.

KHAN: You can get whatever you need when you are educated. And I need my people to be in peace and I need this young nation of mine to be like other countries in the world. I don't need my people to die, not to go back again in war.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHILDREN SINGING)

QUIST-ARCTON: Thank you very much to the students. Thank you for your time. Thank you for answering my questions. And I wish you good luck with your studies. Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF APPLAUSE)

QUIST-ARCTON: This is Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR News, with the students of Good Hope Basic Primary School in Bentiu, Unity State, South Sudan.

(SOUNDBITE OF CHILDREN SINGING)

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