Out-of-school children get a chance to return to class

Thanks to the UNICEF supported- alternative learning programme in Blue Nile

By Reem Abbas
alternative learning programme, out of school children, school drop outs, education, learning, girls' education, Sudan, quality learning, classroom
20 July 2022

Sana Yahia is a mathematics teacher at the Al-Zohour Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) Centre, a job she has held for the last ten years.  

The UNICEF-supported alternative learning centre located in Al-Damazine, capital of the Blue Nile region, is one of the 68 ALP centres in the region with an enrolment of 40 pupils in level one (aged between 7 and 9 years) and an additional 60 pupils in level two (aged between 10 and 14 years). 

Many of the pupils at the centre have never been to school because their parents could not afford, others dropped out of school while several were displaced and/or affected by conflict. But they all have one thing in common, they need an education, and it is their right.   

Yahia confirms that teaching these littles ones has never been easy. “The experience of teaching at the ALP center is difficult. Most of the pupils arrive with no previous education experience, it is their first time learning and their families are economically struggling, and this makes our duty more challenging, as we have to teach them and revise with them because their families can’t do that,” she says.

Fortunately, the alternative learning programme at the centre provides the pupils with what they need and more. The programme was designed for out-of-school children who have never attended school, dropped out that or those cannot be mainstreamed into the normal education system without catching up on the lessons that they lost. 

The centre is served by six teachers covering Arabic, English, Science and Mathematics subjects. 

Yahia and the other teachers at the centre do not only deliver lessons to their pupils, but they also take time to learn their backgrounds in order to serve them better. 

Majda Abdelmajeed, the head of the centre, says “some of them work in the local markets and we understand their conditions, but we want them to continue learning.”

Majority of the girls at the centre attend classes in the morning before they head to the market. To cater to the needs of all the pupils and ensure none of them misses out on lessons, the centre conducts morning and afternoon classes. This provides them all with an opportunity to select convenient times to attend class given their other responsibilities. Special catch-up classes are also organized for those behind their goals.

At this centre, adolescent girls who have left school due to marriage also find a safe haven and an opportunity to return to school. 

ALP pupils cross to national school system

The curriculum delivered at the centre focuses on literacy, numeracy and life-skills to help children mainstream into formal basic education, or alternatively enroll in skills training increasing their employability for improved livelihoods. Today they boost that 75 per cent of the ALP learners are integrated into the formal school system, especially the younger ones.

 “Our pupils graduate from this programme to public schools. One of our students joined Blue Nile University. We see this as a success,” said Majda.

UNICEF with funding from the German Cooperation supported the construction of the Al-Zohour ALP center which has and continues to provide vulnerable out-of-school children with a chance to learn. UNICEF also provides the centre with notebooks, stationery, recreation kits and teaching kits as well as training of teachers and supervisors.