Education In Sudan
EDUCATION IN SUDAN HAS PROGRESSED TREMENDOUSLY OVER THE PAST 15 YEARS. WOMEN, ESPECIALLY,HAVE BENEFITED from government’s mass human resource development policies. Educationally, females are leading males at the moment and in the coming years, are likely to dominate the professional cadres. Women already comprise 70% of the health workers corps. Although the majority are nurses, they are B.Sc. graduates of the high colleges of nursing.The Ministry of Higher Education released statistics in November 2001 revealing that females would constitute the majority in the forthcoming graduating classes from the country’s universities.
The report gave the percentage advantage of females in the various fields as:
• Medicine and Associated Fields 75%
• Education 72%
• Humanities 64%
• Agriculture 60%
• Social Studies 58%
• Sciences 51%
• Services (law, accounting, computer
programming, engineering, etc.) 50%
However, girls still lag substantially beyond boys in primary and secondary school enrollment, which means they perform better in secondary school and universities, therefore comprising the majority of graduates. The preparatory system is comprised of compulsory preschool education, Basic School, and Secondary School. For children 6-13, 45% are enrolled; 48.1% of the boys and 42.8% of the girls. The literacy rate for Sudanese, 15 years and older, is 62% for males, 37% for females, and 50% overall, according to the Ministry of Education.
Higher education and professional ambition among Sudanese school girls is pervasive and parents feel obliged to make the necessary financial sacrifices for their daughters not to be left out of the university society. Often, the
girls too must make sacrifices; day to day expenses are not easily met for girls from low per capita income families, especially if they are in a university far from home.
In a group interview with 8th grade students in a girls’ school, located in the lower middle class district of Al Haji Yousuf, over half of them said their favourite subject is mathematics and they want to be engineers. About a
quarter said they wanted to be doctors. Three said they wanted to be politicians, one a lawyer, and the rest teachers.
No doubt the economic situation in the country, where males are often expected to start working early in order to support themselves, is making higher education more of a norm for females than for their brothers. Also, the social
scene, wherein girls are subject to greater discipline and restriction of movement and activities, provides less distractions for female students than for males. Males may, moreover, be discouraged from pursuing higher education by the prevailing low salaries scale compared to the benefits derived from trading and small scale business.
Sudan now has 38 degree awarding institutions, 31 of which were opened over the past sixteen years of the National Salvation Revolution.
Admission to institutions of higher education rose to over 50,000 last year, from 6,080 in 1989/90. Aside from the increase in government higher education institutions, there is a growing number of private higher education institutions. Critics of government’s mass higher education policy maintain that quality has been sacrificed for quantity. However, it stands to reason that in an underdeveloped country, where the majority of the older generation are illiterate, mass exposure to higher education at least familiarizes youths with contemporary professionalism to the extent that they can learn and develop on the job. Otherwise, socio-economic development efforts would be undermined by serious manpower shortages and reliance on expatriates. On the contrary, Sudan exports a significant number of professionals to other parts of the world, especially the Arab countries. For example, statistics indicate that there are no less than 10,000 Sudanese doctors working abroad.
Presently, there are very few expatriates working in Sudan outside the petroleum sector, where each company comes with its own staff. Although Arabization of the higher education system has limited the ability of educated
Sudanese to function in multinational work environments, a considerable portion of the Southern Sudanese can communicate well enough in English to occupy NGO, United Nations, hotel, and embassy jobs. English is the language of communication in the Greater Nile Petroleum Operating Company, which joins the national oil companies of India,
Sudan, China, and Malaysia, and the company contracts specialized teaching services for its Chinese and Sudanese staff.
Only Juba University, among the government higher education institutions, still uses English as the medium
of instruction, while three of the private universities instruct in English: Al Ahfad University (for female students), Omdurman Ahlia University, and Academy of Medical Sciences & Technology.
Since Arabic replaced English in 1991, as the prevailing language of instruction in Sudan’s higher education institutions, to strengthen scientific and technical education in Arabic, the Higher Authority of Arabization has produced a number of unified dictionaries, covering physics, chemistry, engineering, mathematics, the medical sciences, computer science, agriculture, geology, and archaeology.