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Sudan's Education Minister commits to getting kids back to school after report

September 10 - 2015 KHARTOUM
Children in a camp for displaced people in Darfur. A large number of children who are unable to attend school live in conflict-affected areas (Albert González Farran/Unamid)
Children in a camp for displaced people in Darfur. A large number of children who are unable to attend school live in conflict-affected areas (Albert González Farran/Unamid)

A study carried out by the Sudanese Ministry of Education with the support of the UN Children’s Fund found that over three million school-aged children (5-13 years) are missing out on education, the majority being children from nomadic communities or conflict-affected areas.

Despite the gains made in school attendance - with an increase in primary attendance from 68 percent in 2006 to 76 per cent in 2014 - the Ministry's and Unicef's joint 'Out-of-School Children Report' suggests that Sudan’s ongoing wars, lack of awareness of the importance of education, and economic under-development are having a serious impact on the education of boys and girls.

In addition, girls are more likely than boys to drop out of school before grade 8 (the final year in primary education) owing to traditional beliefs about the role of women. The payment of school charges and fees also prevents some poor families from sending children to school.

Sudan has 7.9 million school aged children of 5-13 years, of which 3.1 million of them are counted as out-of-school.

Commenting on the joint report, State Minister of Education Abdelhafiz El Siddig Abdelahim said in a press release today: “The Ministry of Education is affirming its intent to address the out of school children’s issue, through all necessary educational measures band in close coordination and collaboration with our partners in the education sector.”

'Children whose mothers are uneducated or absent, are more likely to be out of school than children living with educated mothers.'

According to the study carried out by the government of Sudan, supported by Unicef and Unesco, the states of Blue Nile, Kassala, and West Darfur have the highest percentages of out-of-school children. The majority of the out-of-school children are from nomadic communities or rural and conflict-affected areas.

The research found that children whose mothers are uneducated or absent are more likely to be out of school than those living with educated mothers. This finding emphasises the importance of the mother’s level of education and her role in facilitating children’s school attendance.

Also, the majority of out-of-school children tend to have multiple vulnerabilities: a child who is a girl from a poor family with an uneducated mother living in a rural area is 40 times more likely to be out-of-school at primary age and 13 times more likely at secondary school age.

The over three million children aged between 5 and 13 who are not currently attending classes include 490,673 children of pre-primary age (5 years), 1,965,068 primary age children (6-11 years) and 641,587 children of lower secondary school age (12-13 years).

'Urgent need for investments'

“This report serves as a wake-up call,” says Unicef's representative in Sudan, Geert Cappelaere. “There is an urgent need for dedicated investment in basic education by the Government of Sudan and its partners to ensure that every boy and every girl has access to quality learning.

“Education is a basic right,” EU Ambassador Tomas Ulicny added in the press statement, reaffirming the European Union's commitment to support access to education in Sudan. “Education is the main way for a country to growth and to develop, to promote tolerance and friendship among all people, racial or religious groups. EU is fully committed to support Sudan along this path.”

In June, Unicef cooperated with the Sudanese state Ministries of Education, and with the support of the EU and Educate A Child conducted a promotion campaign for the enrolment of more than 300,000 out-of-school children in the country.

The enrolment and awareness raising sessions promoted education, in particular among the most marginalised communities in 14 of the 18 Sudanese states, including Khartoum, Kassala, El Gedaref, Red Sea, Sennar, Blue Nile, the five Darfur states, and South, West, and North Kordofan

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