In a gesture fostering regional unity, Uganda has exempted over 10,000 South Sudanese students from paying student visa fees. This decision, which reflects the close ties between the East African nations, was announced in Kampala by the South Sudan Ambassador to Uganda, Mr. Simon Juach Deng.
A Historic Waiver
Historically, South Sudanese students in Uganda were charged as international students within the East African Community. “This has been a pressing concern,” Mr Deng commented, “but on September 6, we were notified of the waiver, a testament to the unity of the East African Community.”
The exemption aligns with the East African Community Common Market regulations that promote the free movement of persons across member states. Ambassador Deng elaborated, “The EAC protocol mandates that any citizen admitted as a student in a partner state should receive a student pass without incurring a fee.”
As the academic term is on the horizon, the ambassador has appealed to all Ugandan educational establishments to familiarize themselves with this change and stop charging South Sudanese students the pass fees.
Prior to this development, South Sudanese students were burdened with an annual pass fee of $100 (approximately Shs336,000). Mr. Lual Akol Nhial, the education attaché at the South Sudan embassy in Uganda, highlighted the repercussions of this fee. He noted, “Without a Ugandan visa on their passports, students seeking opportunities in countries like the US or Canada were mistakenly perceived to have studied in Uganda unlawfully.”
Ambassador Deng expressed relief, saying that with the visa fees out of the equation, parents can now focus solely on affording tuition. This waiver strengthens the bond between Uganda and South Sudan, encouraging more South Sudanese to pursue education in Uganda.
A Sturdy Bridge Over Troubled Waters
For years, political turmoil in South Sudan has compelled many of its young citizens to seek education in neighboring Uganda. The proximity and relative stability of Uganda have made it a preferred choice for many South Sudanese from primary to tertiary education levels.
South Sudan’s integration into the East African Community on September 5, 2016, further solidified its relationship with neighboring countries. This latest visa waiver for students underscores the mutual respect and cooperation that exists between Uganda and South Sudan, epitomizing the spirit of the East African Community.