The children

The early years

The primary school years


Ash-Shuffa'a As-soghaar

Children and disability


The primary school years

A girl focuses on lessons in her class at a school in the north of Sudan
© UNICEF Sudan/Georgina Cranston
Six year old Saadeeya Ibrahim Issa, concentrates on her lessons in a Grade 1 class at ‎Abu Baker El Siddig basic school, El Tarayat, 60 kms south of Er-Rosaires, Blue ‎Nile, Sudan. ‎

The primary school age population in Sudan - made up children between the ages of seven and 14 years - is estimated at 9 million. The Federal Ministry of General Education reports that in the northern states gross enrolment has increased from 60.2 per cent in 2005 to 67.8 per cent. Overall, the 2006 Sudan Household Health Survey reported that only 53 per cent of children are actually attending classes at any level, and 49 per cent of girls are missing out on their primary education. 

The UN Common Country Assessment for 2007 identified a number of constraints on education in Sudan; these included inadequate government investment, low coverage and inequitable access, poor quality, and low primary school completion rates. Government investment in primary education is less than international standards. A UN Joint Assessment Mission in 2005 revealed that in the north of Sudan, less than 1 per cent of Gross Domestic Product is being spent on education - to meet the world's Education For All targets on public expenditure, Sudan must strive for an annual increase in the share of GDP allocated to education of at least 1 per cent for the next five years.
Increasing public investment would also impact on existing "hidden" barriers to education in Sudan – such as locally imposed school fees, exam charges, and costs of school uniforms, all of which prevent families from sending all their children to school, plus underlying gender-based discrimination in families' selection of which children to send to school. The long-term impact of missing out on education is underlined by Sudan's adult literacy rate, which stands at just 43 per cent (National Council for Adult Education, 2007).

Despite these constraints, there is a growing appreciation of education within Sudanese communities. strong partnerships are being developed with Parent Teacher Councils and Girls' Education Movements, resulting in greater local ownership and leadership for education. Since 2004, UNICEF estimates that 1.7 million additional children have entered Sudan's classrooms. This in itself creates a new challenge for the future - that of accommodating the potential large numbers of children wishing to continue their education at secondary level, where attendance rates now stand at less than 20 per cent.



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