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Despite legislative changes, education in Sudan continues to face challenges, especially in the midst of conflict and instability. The major obstacles faced in terms of education derive from poverty, refugee status and gender inequality. Keep reading to learn the top seven facts about education in Sudan.

Top 7 Facts about Education in Sudan

  1. Sudan currently has one of the biggest numbers of out-of-school children in the Middle East and North Africa region. UNICEF estimates that more than 3 million children between the ages of 5 and 13 are not attending school. In addition, though primary school enrollment stands at 76 percent, secondary school enrollment is only 28 percent. Nearly 3 million 5 to 13-year-old children are not enrolled in school.
  2. Sudan has a large number of unqualified teachers working in schools across the country. The Ministry of Education reports that 3,692 out of 7,315 of teachers in South and East Darfur are not properly trained nor sufficiently supervised.
  3. The illiteracy rate in Sudan stood at 50 percent for women and 30 percent for men in 2016. However, overall illiteracy has since dropped to 24 percent.
  4. Women and girls face major barriers to education. An estimated 49 percent of girls in Sudan do not attend school. Women are not protected against discrimination in classrooms, which subjects them to fewer opportunities and maltreatment. Sudanese society also adheres to gender norms that women only belong in the house to care for children and undertake domestic responsibilities. These stereotypes have affected women’s access to higher education because they are typically culturally bound to domestic and maternal duties.
  5. Sudan has worked toward major education reform in the past. Education in Sudan is free by law, however, many schools and universities charge extortionate fees throughout the school year, making schools too costly for children below the poverty line. Furthermore, the quality of education suffers due to the lack of government funding. In 2017, less than 1 percent of public spending went toward education in Sudan.
  6. Many children in Sudan who need education are refugees from other countries. Sudan hosts large numbers of refugees from Eritrea, Syria, Yemen, Chad and South Sudan. As of February 2019, more than 1 million refugees and asylum seekers were displaced in Sudan. An estimated 24 percent of them were of primary school age (6-13) and 9 percent were of secondary school age (14-17). The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and Educate a Child have teamed up to provide quality primary education to Sudanese refugees. Programs offered by the organizations include teacher training, provision of learning materials and construction/rehabilitation of classrooms. In 2016, 17,371 students were supplied with stationery kits, 763 students were enrolled in accelerated learning programs and 12 student committees were developed.
  7. Global Partnership for Education (GPE) is another nonprofit working in Sudan to strengthen the education system. The GPE aims to improve access to textbooks, quality of the academic environment and overall strengthen the institutional capacity of the education system. The GPE has allocated more than $76 million toward building 2,000 classrooms across the country, providing grants to 750 schools, distributing over 6 million textbooks and establishing teacher monitoring.

Despite the challenges presented by these facts about education in Sudan, various organizations have already begun to work toward developing a better and more effective education system in Sudan. As Sudan undergoes slow recovery from decades of conflict and instability, education becomes a priority and a necessity to recuperate. In the coming years, Sudan may see more progress toward a more inclusive education system if stability grows and increased opportunities arise for minorities such as girls and refugees.

Louise Macaraniag
Photo: Flickr

Recent Genocides
Genocide is defined as the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation. Recent genocides have occurred in Sudan against 
Darfur’s ethnic Fur, Massalit, and Zhagawa peoples and in Myanmar against its Rohingya minority.

Tensions Continue as a Result of Sudanese Genocides

Since gaining independence from the United Kingdom and Egypt in 1956, Sudan has struggled to find peace between its Muslim northern regions and its animist and Christian southern regions. Continuous conflict led to the creation of an autonomous South Sudan, but tensions persist. Civil wars in the region have taken an estimated 2.5 million lives and displaced approximately four million people.

Beside the warring north and south of Sudan, recent genocides have occurred in a western part of the nation known as Darfur. In February 2003, rebel groups led by predominantly by non-Arab Muslim sedentary tribes, including the Fur and Zaghawa, rose up against the Khartoum government due to unequal treatment and economic marginalization. In response, the government sent militias known as Janjaweed, which translates to “evil men on horseback,” whose duties were to carry out attacks on villages. The Janjaweed used slash and burn methods to decimate communities as well as injuring and murdering civilians and poisoning wells.

The Darfurian genocide was the first genocide of the 21st century and its unrest and violence have not yet ceased. As of 2016, more than 480,000 people have been murdered and more than 2.8 million people have been displaced. Many refugees have fled Sudan and some have been living in camps for more than 10 years.

Recent Genocides in Myanmar Draw Global Attention

Myanmar, the nation formerly known as Burma, lived under the governance of an oppressive military junta from 1962 to 2011. The government is now under civilian control, but the military continues to wield extensive power and commit human rights abuses. Its population is mostly Buddhist with large Christian and Muslim minorities.

Two-thirds of Myanmar’s people identify as Burmese or Bamar, but there are 135 ethnic minorities residing in the country. The Christian Karen people and the Muslim Rohingya people of Myanmar have faced long-standing systemic violence and oppression from the Buddhist government. Aid agencies estimate that 200,000 Karen have been driven from their homes in the decades of conflict and as recently as 2010 the government was still burning, shelling and abusively sweeping Karen villages.

The Rohingya Muslims have also had a long-standing history of genocide and statelessness. In 1982, the Burmese military stripped the Rohingya of their citizenship, claiming that they were Bengali despite their having lived in Burma’s Rakhine State for generations. This led to a mass migration of over 250,000 Rohingya people to Bangladesh in 1991 and 1992, but they were met with deportation once in Bangladesh and were forced to return to Burma.

The recent genocides of the Rohingya in Myanmar began in 2012 when political party officials, senior Buddhist monks and state security forces committed mass killings of men, women and children. The cleansing left 150,000 Rohingya homeless and more than 100,000 fled the country.

Even more recently, in August 2017, a small rebellion of Rohingya militants led to military retaliation against any and all Rohingya people. These attacks caused the largest refugee movement since the Rwandan genocide. More than 675,000 Rohingya fled the country within three months to seek safety in Bangladesh. As of January 2018, more than one million Rohingya refugees have been registered in Bangladesh.

Fulfilling the Promise to End Genocide Worldwide

Ethnic cleansing and genocide are not acts of the past. Religious and cultural minorities continue to face persecution and attempts at forced extinction. However, this does not mean that individuals elsewhere must simply be bystanders to such atrocities. Raising awareness about the genocides occurring in the world and donating time or money to organizations that work to end genocide can make an impact and ensure that the world does not turn a blind eye to those in danger.

The organization United to End Genocide states that one of the best ways for individuals to help prevent and stop genocide is to vote for representatives who support foreign aid and acknowledge global atrocities. Support representatives who make the end of genocide a priority.

– Carolina Sherwood Bigelow
Photo: Flickr

world_globe_borgen_africa
The country of Sudan has been struggling with violent conflicts since an ongoing genocide began in the Darfur region in 2003. Over the past twelve years, nearly 400,000 citizens were killed and another 2.5 million were displaced by the Janjaweed militia. The country has been investigated for many human rights violations, but the suffering continues today. Currently, 2.7 million citizens reside in displaced persons camps, and 4.7 million rely on humanitarian aid to survive.

Daily life in Darfur is difficult for anyone, but women face an exceptionally dangerous reality. Rape has often been used as a tool of war in this region. Militias will enter villages, kill off the men of the households, and then rape the women. Many women do not report these experiences, but even when they do, the authorities do little to help. Victims may be ostracized, especially if they become pregnant.

In Sudan, wood burning stoves are commonly used for cooking. Being in charge of collecting firewood means miles of walking alone, and women often face violence when they go to gather fuel for these stoves. They could be attacked or raped while making these walks. Even when left alone, they still suffered from wounds on their hands and feet after dragging wood for miles.

Fueling these wood stoves was extremely dangerous for women. Furthermore, the stoves presented environmental concerns. Deforestation has damaged the fertile land in Sudan, and indoor wood stoves produce toxic smoke. To tackle these issues, The Darfurian Women’s Development Network began distributing gas stoves to thousands of households in Darfur.

The organization hoped to raise awareness of the negative health and environmental impact of wood stoves, reduce pressure on the dwindling natural resources necessary to fuel them and reduce indoor air pollution and toxic smoke production. They distributed gas stoves to 15,000 households in Darfur, specifically targeting the groups who struggled most: single women, displaced citizens, manual workers and farmers. These stoves are powered exclusively by LPG gas, a clean energy source.

So far, the gas stoves have had an overwhelmingly positive impact, especially for women. They no longer need to make frequent, dangerous treks to gather firewood, leaving them less vulnerable to sexual violence and giving them peace of mind. With a decreased need for wood to burn, ecosystems can begin to recover. Smoke from wood burning stoves could cause coughing and chest infections when inhaled, but the gas stoves pose no such health threats.

The gas stoves cannot solve all the problems that Sudanese citizens currently face, but they have improved quality of life for many. The Darfurian Women’s Development Network will continue distributing these stoves in order to keep steadily working towards a brighter future for Sudan.

– Jane Harkness

Sources: The Guardian, Practical Action, Response Magazine, United Human Rights Council

us_aid_to_darfur
While Darfur has been at the head of aid policy for a long time, aid may be more important to the region than it has been historically.

In 2003, war in Darfur erupted, partially due to the lack of resources and the diversity of groups living in the area.

Poverty and diversity working together to create conflict is not unique to Sudan, but rather is something that I have seen as well in Kenya. Africa was split into countries, not by groups who wanted to live together, but by European countries seeking land and resources. Now, the people of those countries, including Kenya, are impoverished and left with few resources.

It is easy for groups who did not ever mean to live together to fight over the remaining resources. In Kenya, the conflict is often in the form of cattle raids. In Darfur, there was a split between Arabs and non-Arabs that led to a war against the non-Arab population in Darfur, leaving thousands dead and many more as refugees.

The United States has been providing assistance to Sudan since before this conflict, starting in about the 1980s, but US aid to Darfur did not begin until much later. When the conflict began, USAID became a leader in the effort to stabilize Darfur.

USAID had made progress in transforming the Government of Southern Sudan into a stable government (although civil war has broken out once again). In addition, the organization has provided a million people with access to clean water, as well as increasing the number of children in school.

In May, USAID provided Sudan with emergency food assistance of 47,500 metric tons of grain.

This assistance is crucial at this point in time. Violence in Darfur is increasing and Sudanese people are being recruited into ISIS. Recently, a groups of Sudanese students fled to Syria in order to join the organization.

Areas undergoing political transition and violence are easy places for terrorist groups like ISIS to target as recruitment grounds and safe havens. Darfur is possibly more at-risk for this because of its conflict that began, in part, from Arabs in the region feeling discriminated against.

If Muslims in Darfur continue to feel as if there is no future in their country, because of conflict and poverty, and continue to feel discriminated against, even the United Nations is afraid that Darfur could be a “breeding ground” for extremist groups like ISIS.

Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, however, would like for the African Union and United Nation’s troops to pull out of Darfur. Yet, this is not the time.

In light of the conflict, and rise of ISIS, Darfur can use all of the aid that it can get. The United States should continue to be a role model in helping Darfur by increasing aid to the region. With increased aid, hopefully other leaders in world aid will follow suit and increase aid to the region.

The increased emergency food aid was a good first step, but perhaps increased structural aid should come next.

– Clare Holtzman

Sources: Aid Data, All Africa, WN, Brookings, National Bureau of Economic Research, Open Democracy, Poverties, Reuters, Slate, Time, Thomas Reuters Foundation, USAID
Photo: End Genocide

MTV
The president of MTV, Stephen Friedman, has added pushing a social change campaign to his agenda for the long-standing music television network. Friedman joined the company in 1998 to create the department of Strategic Partnerships and Public Affairs, but social responsibility has always been a major part of his life. Friedman is also fascinated with the strong effect the media can have on people, particularly teenagers and young adults.

After Friedman graduated from Wesleyan University, he worked for the nonprofit organization, PEN American Center, which helps encourage the fight for free expression and stands up for those who don’t have freedoms of speech or expression. It was during his time with PEN that Friedman realized how powerful the media can be to encourage social responsibility, and he gravitated more towards the media industry, working at a media consulting firm and contacted later by MTV for the Strategic Partnership and Public Affairs position.

Friedman’s first major action of social change with MTV came when he was head of mtvU, the company’s college network, and he developed the Darfur is Dying video game.  He realized that college students were upset over the conflicts in Darfur in 2004, so to educate more people about the issue, he created the viral game. The game was so popular MTV was awarded the Governor’s Emmy Award and set the bar for other companies.

One of MTV’s more popular pushes to create social change is through their hit shows 16 and Pregnant and Teen Mom. These shows were intended to demonstrate the unglamorous life of young mothers who unintentionally become pregnant and encourage education about unprotected sex at a young age. Although some people disagree with the shows’ messages, believing that these programs do, in fact, glamorize pregnancy by turning teen mothers into TV stars, the CDC’s 2010 report shows that teen pregnancies are at a record low in the US, and many experts claim that MTV’s programs have been a factor in the decrease.

MTV has evolved over the years. What started as a station only for music videos has morphed into a network that promotes social responsibility and change through educational and entertaining programs. The company has learned that it can multitask to be able to encourage responsibility among young adults while still giving them something fun to watch.

Katie Brockman
Sources: Fast Company, PEN American Center
Photo: MTV

UK to Invest £33 Million in Darfur
The United Kingdom has decided to invest in the future of Darfur by giving at least £33 million to the struggling region. A land where 2 million people are still displaced since its civil war started in 2003, Darfur is in desperate need of assistance in rebuilding its economy, communities, and agriculture system. The UK hopes to provide the resources for its impoverished people to become self-sufficient.

The program is aimed at increasing Darfur’s crop yields through training and education classes. With the foreign aid money, farmers will be able to create seed banks and employ better irrigation techniques. The UK is also focusing on improved health and sanitation systems. Lynne Featherstone, UK’s International development minister, is confident that the aid will give 1.7 million people clean water and sanitation and 1.5 million people emergency food supplies. Currently half of Darfur is reliant on emergency food services. Featherstone is confident that improving these aspects of peoples’ lives will lead to a more thriving society.

UK’s foreign aid is said to ensure that half a million people in Darfur will become “food secure” by 2015. This will be a huge accomplishment for a country that has been war-torn for over a decade. Unfortunately, one and a half million people currently do not have food security, so there is a lot more work to done. As more countries are cutting back on foreign aid, it is encouraging to see the UK increase aid money to Darfur. The impact this money will have on its poor population is staggering and could mean the difference between life and death for thousands, if not millions of people.

– Mary Penn

Source: Independent
Source: Guardian