Bor student at UNMISS vocational training centre“: I want to be that change that comes to my community”
“This is a chance to study at a high-quality vocational training centre in a newly-independent nation and to gain new skills that will allow us to bring change to the country,” said Jacob Mayon as he described what it meant to him to be admitted to the Hanbit Vocational Training Centre in Bor.
The facilities, operated by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan’s (UNMISS) South Korean military contingent, provide a hands-on approach to offering vocational training to South Sudanese youth willing to develop skills in areas like carpentry, agriculture, and engineering that will enable them to be productive and transform their communities.
“I want the youth in Bor and in the rest of the country to know that it is beneficial to have a vocation,” said Jacob Mayon. “I want to spread the word to as many local youths as possible and urge them to sign up for a class.”
This past Tuesday, at an induction ceremony for 41 new trainees, the majority of which were residents of the UNMISS protection of civilian site, students expressed their joy at having successfully passed the screening process. Now the hard work begins, with classes scheduled to last for approximately six months.
South Korean battalion commander Colonel Jaeson Park encouraged the incoming group to make the best out of the opportunity at hand.
“You have the chance to develop yourself,” he said. “You have the chance to bring change to your community and your nation. Do not let it slip by.”
About two million South Sudanese children lack access to education, and more than 70 percent of the population is illiterate, according to the UN and Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization and watchdog.
Tabitha Adut, a culinary arts student, had enrolled earlier this semester so that she could one day use her new abilities to give something back to her community.
“As a woman, my role is not just in the house, but in the entire community,” she said.
Many South Sudanese women do not have the means to complete their secondary studies, while many others are forced to drop out because early marriages, social stigma and other culturally related factors. According to national statistics, only 17 per cent of women can read and write.
Jacob Mayon, upon completing his studies in agriculture, hopes to apply his know-how to fighting crop shortages.
“In this way, I can improve the livelihoods of those who were not admitted to the centre this time,” he said.
During the ceremony, Mayon spoke confidently about his ambitions as his peers stood by and listened.
“I think I can speak on behalf of all of us when I say we really appreciate the support from UNMISS, especially the South Korean contingent, for helping us improve our lives. It means so much to us,” he said.
Youth in oil-rich but war-torn South Sudan make up about 70 percent of the population.