About the Author: Major General (Ret) Scott Gration serves as the U.S. Special Envoy to Sudan.
Greetings from Juba! As we await the announcement of the official results of the Southern Sudan referendum, our team remains hard at work. The next five months will be critical to ensuring that Southern Sudan has the right tools to build a stable and prosperous future for its people. Building critical infrastructure, creating inclusive democratic institutions, and providing basic services to its people are challenges that the Government of Southern Sudan must be prepared to meet should the South become independent.
Following a successful visit to Khartoum and Juba with Deputy Secretary Steinberg, Assistant Secretary Carson, and Ambassador Mary Yates, I visited the Government of Southern Sudan to continue preparations for the post-CPA period on February 3, 2011. One critical element of the South's future success is education, and I met with the Government of Southern Sudan's Minister of Education, Dr. Michael Milli.
As I told the minister, education is the fundamental capacity a country needs to build a stronger and more prosperous future. And the South recognizes that it can only be successful if it invests in its people. I was encouraged to learn about the South's efforts to improve its population's literacy rate, increase access to both formal and informal education, and develop the technical skills needed to support its developing economy. And the United States, through assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development and other programs, will continue to support Southern Sudan's efforts to build schools, train teachers, and increase the South's educational capacity with the goal of empowering its people as productive citizens.
Moving ahead, the challenge will be to ensure that education remains a top priority for the South, and also that the Government of Southern Sudan develops a robust plan that will allow it to sustain new schools and other initiatives jump started by assistance from the international community. We stand ready to support them in this effort as they work toward a better tomorrow, and look forward to continued collaboration.