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15 June 2008 - Official remarks at the launch of the 2008 school enrolment campaign‎

Your Excellency the First Lady, your Excellency the Minister, Federal Ministry of ‎General Education, Mr Hamid Mohamed Ibrahim, the Undersecretary Federal Ministry of ‎General Education, Dr Al Mutassim Abdel Rahim, distinguished representatives of the ‎Government of National Unity, colleagues and partners from the Federal Ministry of General ‎Education and other Ministries, UN agencies and non-governmental organizations, ladies and ‎gentlemen.‎

UNICEF is pleased to be invited to make a statement at the launch of the enrolment ‎campaign for 2008. This launch is very timely considering the high degree of urgency with which ‎we need to enroll every child and keep them in school. In 2007, 6.7 million primary school-age ‎children attended classes in the northern states of Sudan; approximately 67 per cent of the ‎primary school age population. This compares to 3.9 million in 2004/2005 academic year ‎‎(FMOGE statistics report 2004/2005). ‎

However, we should be concerned about the 3 million children and young people who ‎remain excluded from enjoying their right to quality primary and secondary education, largely ‎due to inability to meet the cost of education. We should also be concerned about the persistent ‎gender and geographic disparities between and within states and localities. ‎

 UNICEF is pleased to be supporting the Federal and State Ministries of Education in the ‎development of high impact sub-sector initiatives to accelerate the attainment of universal basic ‎education by 2015. Key among these actions are the development of the Girls’ Education ‎Strategic Plan, the development of the Accelerated Learning programme for children out of ‎school and the Nomadic Education scale up strategy. Between these three initiatives, the ‎challenges faced by children out of school, especially girls, nomads and conflict affected children ‎will be addressed.‎

 We would particularly like to call the attention of the Government of National Unity once ‎again to increase its investments in the education and development of its children. Without the ‎earmarking of these investments, it will not be possible to meet the direct costs of education of ‎vulnerable children. Parents and communities are already meeting more than 70% of  the non-‎salary costs of schooling. It is time that the public sector eases this heavy burden on households ‎considering the low income status of the majority of Sudanese people.‎

Since 2004, UNICEF has regularly invested up to US$ 12 million per year in the northern ‎states of Sudan alone. This investment has resulted in 900,000 more children enrolling in school – ‎that’s the equivalent of just US$ 40 per child in crude terms. The dividend paid on such an ‎investment is itself beyond value.  In 2008 however, UNICEF’s budget for education has so far ‎reached USD17 million. Considering the high unmet demand for educational assistance, this ‎amount constitutes a drop in the ocean, if it is not complemented by substantial increases in ‎public spending in education.  ‎

We must improve opportunities for children’s education in Sudan, especially those who ‎have never enrolled or have dropped out of school. Both inclusion and quality of education are ‎directly linked to government spending on education and external financial resources available to ‎the sector. A recent report from the Federal Ministry of General Education (Education for All ‎Mid-term Report, July 2007) suggests that government expenditure on education in the northern ‎states of Sudan accounts for just 0.7 per cent of GDP, far below the average 5 per cent spent in ‎other sub-Saharan African countries. To bring Sudan in line with other countries in this region, ‎government expenditure needs to be increased to at least 5% of GDP. Sudan needs to prioritize ‎education to achieve its recovery and development goals.‎

The 2006 SHHS survey, the 2007 Household Health Survey correlated mothers’ ‎education with several indicators related to maternal and child health. The survey found ‎significant improvements if the mother had at least primary education and additional ‎improvement if she had secondary education. In order to reduce maternal and child health ‎indicators, we must substantially increase investments in education and keep girls in school. We ‎must also ensure that what children learn in terms of knowledge and life skills and is relevant for ‎improved quality of life. ‎

UNICEF wishes to re-iterate its commitment to support the GONU to mobilize broad-based ‎partnerships and coordinate our efforts with all other partners to ensure that children are at the ‎centre of the recovery and development agenda for Sudan.  ‎
Thank you.‎



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