Rajab Mohandis from South Sudan was working with the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs to build the capacity of civil society for effective mobilisation and education of citizens to participate in the general elections and the important referendum for the independence of South Sudan in 2009 and 2011 respectively. When South Sudan gained independence in July 2011, he felt it was important to develop a career in governance, so as to better contribute to the development of his new nation and chose to undertake postgraduate study.
“I chose The University of Manchester because of the quality of its postgraduate programs,” Rajab explained. “Having heard of the quality of teaching and resources at The University of Manchester from South Sudanese graduates of Manchester, I spent considerable time on the website of the University, examining its postgraduate programs. I found many suitable courses particularly in the Institute of Development, Policy and Management, now Global Development Institute.”
“The popularity of Manchester as a city of the Industrial Revolution and home for Manchester United and Manchester City, two of the leading football clubs in the world, made it a perfect choice. Besides, Manchester and its neighbouring cities like Bolton, Leads and Birmingham had the second largest South Sudanese communities in the UK after London. I felt The University of Manchester was not only a suitable and prestigious world class University to study but also a home away from South Sudan.”
Rajab was awarded a prestigious Chevening Scholarships of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office and completed his masters at Manchester, majoring in Politics and Governance which he described as “a dream course for me, in relation to the situation in my country.”
Rajab says that the studies he did at Manchester helped him to continue his work in building a peaceful and democratic future for South Sudan. “My postgraduate studies at Manchester enhanced my knowledge in politics and governance and strengthened my skills in writing and policy analysis. Postgraduate courses at the University of Manchester offer more practical skills than just theoretical knowledge.”
Rajab is currently the Executive Director of ORG – a leading South Sudanese civil society organization. He was honoured to participate in the recent African Union Elections Observation Mission in Zimbabwe and also shares his knowledge with South Sudanese students by doing part-time lecturing at the School of Public Service in the University of Juba, the country’s main public university.
Rajab has this advice for those considering coming to Manchester to study International Development before returning to work in their home country:
“My advice to the masters students at The University of Manchester goes in two areas: first, they should effectively utilise academic resources, the online and physical libraries and the wealth of experiences of the lecturers to achieve the best out of the University. Second, they should proactively contribute towards addressing development needs in their respective countries. They should take development a notch higher, contextualize development practices and aim at serving humanity with a difference. Additionally, they should make the University of Manchester shine in every step of their work.”