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By Nasser Nasser, AP ابو شوك 2 class in Darfur

Source: Radio Dabanga

Despite the progress in access to education in Sudan, more than 1.9 million school age children are still out of school. 53 percent of them are girls.

Sudan has made commendable progress in increasing access to education in the past decade, according to a Unicef Sudan press release issued on Monday on the occasion of the Day of the African Child. The Gross Enrollment Rate in basic education increased from 57.4 in 2000 to 69.7 percent in 2012, while girls’ enrollment has increased from 49.3 percent to 67.4 percent in the same period.

“Of those that enroll, only 54 percent of them reach Grade 8 to complete the basic education level with low learning achievements. The majority of the close to 2 million out of school children are nomadic, displaced, children with disabilities, or from rural areas”, Unicef Sudan stated.

“Poverty is another major factor. Only 52 percent of the boys and 47 percent of the girls from the poorest quintile have access to primary education. Increasing education’s share of the national budget with special attention to addressing equity and disparity issues are among the children should remain a key priority.”

Learning crisis

A pressing challenge is the poor quality of the education offered in many schools; a challenge that is often referred to as a “learning crisis”.

“With overcrowded classrooms and insufficient learning materials and teachers, large numbers of children repeat grades and drop out from school without mastering the basics. This is a particularly serious concern given the close links between learning outcomes and national economies.”

Darfur

Radio Dabanga reported earlier this year that 80 percent of the youngsters in war-torn Darfur are school drop-outs. In particular girls are leaving school prematurely.

In South Darfur State 38.9 percent of the schoolgirls have to leave school because their parents cannot afford the school fees. In East Darfur the rate of drop-outs for this reason is 19.2 percent. The percentage of girls leaving school in South Darfur because of marriage amounts to 28 percent, and in West Darfur 21 percent, according to a Sudanese survey published on 12 May.

The highest percentage of schoolgirls not continuing their education after completing basic school was recorded in Central Darfur (15 percent) and West Darfur (11 percent.)

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