Up close with Kampala University College Principal – Faisal Juuko

Up close with Kampala University College Principal – Faisal Juuko

Kampala University established a college in Juba in 2014, in a bid fill the huge void in higher education provision in Africa’s youngest nation, the security situation notwithstanding.

Currently the college has over 1,200 students pursuing different programs. This also includes an undisclosed number of government officials.

While the HIV epidemic in South Sudan is generalised with a prevalence rate of three per cent, the college has heightened HIV/AIDS awareness within the institution in a bid to curb its spread within and outside the borders of the college.

The City Review Newspaper reporter, Kitab Unango of caught up with Kampala University College Principal Kalama Faisal Juuko for a one-on-one interview on various issues.

KITAB: Kampala University College has been in Juba from 2014. How is the going?

FEISAL: Kampala University College is an institution of higher education, and we are just here purposely to deliver services to the people of South Sudan. We strive for excellence and it is the excellence that has made us stand from the date of entering the Republic of South Sudan up to now despite all the challenges that we have been facing. It is the service that we are providing to the people that is making us stand stronger on the ground. We are purely for academics.

KITAB: Recently, Kampala University College in Juba launches an awareness campaign on HID/AIDs. What prompted the administration to come up with the initiative?  Is it something the university thought could add value to students’ education?

FAISAL: Other than being an academician, I am also a father. The truth is that HIV cure has not been found yet. That means we have to make the youthful generation that we have here as students aware of this reality, and how they can stay safe while inside and outside the college.

So we decided to come up with this awareness program so that they avoid getting infected. But if it happens, then they should also know what to do.

We work closely with the Ministry of Health and South Sudan AIDs Commission in raising awareness amongst our students about HIV/AIDS and other STIs.

Students of Kampala University College in Juba. [Photo: Kitab Unango, City Review]

KITAB. What are some of the programs that the university offers students in South Sudan?

FAISAL. Kampala University College in Juba has many programs. Some of them are, we have schools of computers and information technology, school of business management, school of social science and humanity, and public health, and we offer full time students and distant learners. Our programs run from morning up to the evening.

KITAB. Tell us about challenges the university faces and how it has overcome them to reach this extend?

FAISAL: Our number one challenge is the economy. Inflation has affected us, especially the movements of our learners who use public means. Today they may be charged 100 SSP tomorrow 500 SSP, which makes them sometimes miss lectures. On top of that, we all depend on the market.

We procure whatever we use from the market but, if you go there today the price is okay, tomorrow you find it has completely changed because of the dollar exchange rate. So our biggest challenge is economic inflation. The security is very okay but inflation is our biggest problem.

To overcome this, we sacrifice a lot. For example, we have students who have missed today. This means they will have to be allowed to join the weekend students to compensate for the time lost.

Kampala University College students during Aids awareness campaign in Juba. [Photo: Kitab Unango, City Review]

KITAB. Do you engage in corporate social responsibility?   

FAISAL. We are getting into partnerships with different stakeholders. For example, we have partnered with the Ministry of Health to research on neglected tropical diseases (NTDs).

We have also worked with Amref, UNDP, Dar Petroleum and DEPOC on various projects.

KITAB. What is the vision of Kampala University College in Juba?  

FAISAL. Our future plan is to have a full-fledged university in the Republic of South Sudan.    And after establishing ourselves here in Juba, we are going to have at least coordination centers across South Sudan to coordinate our activities.

Right now, we are still under the mother university. But even if we are under the mother university, they continue to nurture us until we grow up. As a son, you cannot say that you be in your father’s house for years and years. Until when you are mature, you can live your own life, and this is where we heading to because we have whatever it takes us to be a university.

We have students who cannot keep coming to Kampala University College in Juba to get coursework, submit their assignments, and get learning materials. So we are planning to have coordination offices so that our distant learners know where to go and get learning materials.

According to our strategic plan for the next five years, we shall be having everything in place.

Right now as I talk, we have started sending people to look for coordination offices in the states.

KITAB. We have naysayers who believe Kampala University College in Juba has not made its presence felt. What do you tell them?

FAISAL. We have been in operation for almost eight years. That means people should have confidence in us. We have been incorporated in the Republic of South Sudan, we have the certificate from the Ministry of Justice, and we comply with the Chamber of Commerce regulations.

At Kampala University College in Juba, we do not graduate. Graduation is still the mandate of our mother campus in Uganda. So, they are awarded certificates that are awarded to other students in other countries. And the good thing is that this is a regional university. We have branches in Kenya, Somalia, Djibouti, Dar el Salam and here in South Sudan.

So, if the Burundians studying at Kampala University, their documents are recognized. If our gradients go back to Nigeria, their documents are recognized. So even those ones who are working with us here in Juba, get international documents, and when they come here their documents are recognized. It is the mother university that is awarding the certificates until that time we shall be independent.