Sudan has one of the largest number of out-of-school children in the Middle East and North Africa region. It’s estimated that over three million children here, aged 5-13 years, are not in the classroom. Seventy-six percent of primary age children attend school; in secondary that figure dips to 28 percent. At 43 percent, Blue Nile is the worst performing state for children who are out of primary school.
Conflict, a lack of awareness about the importance of education and chronic under-development all contribute to the poor schooling of boys and girls in Sudan. The inability to pay fees—even though school is free per government policy—prevents many poor families from sending children to school. Finally, cultural pressures and the traditional views of the role of women mean fewer girls attend, and remain in, school.
Even if all the barriers to education are somehow hurdled, once in the classroom the quality of learning is below the required standards. The Ministry of Education identified 3,692 unqualified teachers in South and East Darfur out of a total number of 7,315 employed teachers. Many teachers in Sudan were found to be untrained, under supervised and unequally distributed between rural and urban areas. In these schools instruction consisted of rote learning, the school environments themselves were often unfriendly with inadequate separate sanitation facilities for girls and teaching materials tended to be inappropriate, outdated or non-existent.
While on some measures Sudan has recorded steady progress in education, from an increase in primary school attendance to gender parity in primary classrooms it is clear that much work remains to be done.