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Darfur (Sudan/Chad) - Region in crisis


Students take school examination in Kalma IDP camp

© UNICEF Sudan/2005
A student at Kalma IDP camp in South Darfur, Sudan, prepares for a six day exam for entry to secondary school.

By Eman el Tigani

DARFUR, Sudan, 15 April 2005 - April brought to displaced adolescents in South Darfur the same fate as students all over the world: exams.

Some 13,500 students took a six-day examination to enter secondary school, most likely in one of the sprawling camps for Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) that have become their home for the past year. The Grade 8 students will be tested in seven subjects.

These children have been caught up in one of the world’s worst crises. During two years of conflict, more than 70,000 people have died and up to 2 million more have been forced from their homes by marauding Janjaweed militia groups. These exams come at a time when the threat of drought looms large and the situation for women and children is reported to be deteriorating.

Fourteen-year-old Enitaser Abdul (not her real name) left school for a year because of the conflict. She was only able to return to school when she came to the Kalma IDP camp. As she entered the school building, she said, “I’m really happy now that I can go on to secondary school like my friends in the rest of Sudan. I wish to become a doctor in my village. These days I miss my father so much. If he was here, he would support me to succeed. We lost my father at the start of the conflict. We still don’t know if he has survived or died.”

The young thin girl became tearful and stopped talking.

© UNICEF Sudan/2005
Students at Kalma IDP camp in South Darfur, Sudan, must be tested in seven subjects to gain entry to secondary school.

UNICEF is working hard alongside the Ministry of Education, NGO partners and donors to support 51,786 students in South Darfur. Together with partners, UNICEF works to create a good child-friendly environment with safe schools and available water and sanitation facilities.

UNICEF also supports the training of volunteer teachers and provides the schools, teachers and students with basic education materials such as school kits, textbooks, blackboards, notebooks, pens and pencils. UNICEF and partners are also rebuilding damaged schools, constructing new classrooms and mobilising communities to enrol school-aged children.

Sitting in a broken seat behind Enitaser, 15-year old Laila said, ”Math was really difficult for me. Despite that, I will continue my studies if UNICEF opens a secondary school in this camp.”

Noisy and crowded conditions in in the camp have made studying difficult for the students. Student Ahmed Harown wishes that UNICEF would open schools in his village. “Even though there we studied under the tree, it was very quiet and I could concentrate on my studies easily. Here in the camp, it’s very crowded and difficult to study because of all the noise. It would be nice if I could find a quiet place to study outside the camp. Unfortunately that is not possible due to the security situation. When I succeed, the people in my village will make a big ceremony in my honour and will invite those from the villages nearby to celebrate my success.”

Osman Mohammed, Headmaster of this IDP school said, “I’m happy for these students. If they pass this gruelling exam, they will be able to go secondary school and continue their studies.”

Mohammed detailed the many problems the school faced this year. “How to let students come together and forget the atrocities? How to create a good environment for these children, who come from different villages and are joining together for the first time? However, we have reached the final examination. I wish luck for all of them so we can bring happiness to the camp after all this suffering.”



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