ZWD realizes the importance of education as a basis for any social or economic development. Many young Sudanese girls and boys are deprived from primary education for many reasons – economically, politically or socially. They have been left behind as victims of illiteracy, with minimal participation in development process and bringing about change. Our work fills this gap.
Construction of Rufaa Primary school in Rufaa Village—Gedarif State.
With the support from SDC (Swiss Agency for Development and Cooperation) in 2007, CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency; now Global Affairs Canada) in 2009, the Embassy of France in 2010, the Embassy of Japan in 2011 and Zain Sudan in 2012, we have improved the educational environment of 5 primary schools. These schools have been maintained by the local communities. We strive to continue our work in enabling thousands of Sudanese children to be empowered by education, realize their basic human rights and become partners in development process.
There are many layers of factors that have caused the deterioration in primary education sector in Sudan. Among these are:
1. Poor and/or insufficient infrastructure, namely school building, drinking water facilities and toilets.
The majority of schools are built from fragile materials without appropriate maintenance. A classroom can be a mere shade of a tree or under poor shelters that are not resistant to wind or rain. Without rehabilitation, the building may be collapsed.
Oftentimes, drinking water is delivered by donkey water vendors. By the time the water is delivered, its quality tends to be compromised as it is exposed to excessive heat. The access to safe drinking water for the students is thus limited.
Further, the availability of toilets is often disproportionate. In many villages, there tend to be only two toilets: one for teachers and another for students. This disproportionate availability of toilets has led to the situation where students have no choice but to share one toilet. This has forced them to ‘pee in the public’. This is humiliating especially for girls as they often have to get their business done in the sight of boys around the school. The sense of discomfort emerging from such a situation has made girls go home early – or drop out of school.
2. Poverty at home
Many families in rural Sudan live below the poverty line. They are not able to provide their children with daily breakfast, let alone afford school uniforms or text books. Many parents have opted to pull out their girls and boys from education at early stage to help their families earn income by having them engaged in precarious work in the informal sector.
Prolonged state of poverty has meant poor health conditions at home. Many girls are staying home to take care of the sick family members.
3. Social traditions
Certain gender expectations are deep-rooted in some regions, which underestimate the importance of girls education and interrupt their primary education process by early marriage.
Many parents do not feel comfortable sending their girls to school where there are no gender-segregated classrooms or toilets available. In a such case, they tend to allow their daughters to continue primary education up to about the 5th grade.
4. Lack of teachers
Lack of teachers is a particularly challenging in rural areas. In the absence of paved roads, health care units, sufficient text books, seats or other teaching materials, teachers prefer not to work in rural areas.
Since 2007, we have prioritized to improve primary educational environment as a strategic objective. We have focused on rural remote villages where the need for such an intervention is greater in order to reduce the high illiteracy and school dropout rates.