The children

The early years

The primary school years


Ash-Shuffa'a As-soghaar

Children and disability



Based on estimates from the 2006 Sudan Household Health Survey, there are some 9.5 million children aged between 10 and 19 years old - adolescents make up 23 per cent of Sudan's population.

While more than 64 per cent of students who start school move on to secondary level, overall seconday school enrolment rates are just 19 per cent; four-fifths of Sudan's young people are therefore out of school in their adolescent years.

36 per cent of girls marry before the age of 18 - more than 12 per cent are married before their 15th birthday, leaving them exposed to dropping out of education and facing threats to their health and wellbeing. A quarter of girls currently aged between 15 and 19 years are married. In the northern states, girls also face severe threats to their health from female genital cutting - while there have been significant efforts to reduce the prevalence of this harmful practice, more than 68 per cent of young women remain affected.

Young people have a limited knowledge or understanding of HIV and AIDS. A knowledge, attitudes and practices study undertaken in 2005 by the Sudan National AIDS Programme and UNICEF found that while 94 per cent of young people in the north of Sudan had heard of HIV and AIDS, less than one-quarter could identify common methods of HIV transmission, while the majority accepted traditional stigmas attached to those living with HIV/AIDS - such as not allowing children living with HIV to attend school, or refusing to buy food from those affected by the virus.

Young people who are out of school, with limited education, and often faced by the need to support their families, are at considerable risk of abuse and exploitation by others. One example of this is the large number of children believed to be associated with armed forces and groups in Sudan. Based on anecdotal evidence and discussions with partners, UNICEF estimates that up to 10,000 children are associated with armed forces and groups - mostly in Darfur.



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