Back To School, Despite Sudanese Violence Long years of civil war, exile and displacement as refugees have disrupted South Sudan's education system. They're still catching up nearly a year after independence from — and renewed conflict with — Sudan.

Back To School, Despite Sudanese Violence

  • Download
  • <iframe src="" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
  • Transcript


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.


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.


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.


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.


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


Copyright © 2012 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by an NPR contractor. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Accuracy and availability may vary. The authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio record.