Building the foundation for a strong education system in Sudan
August 23, 2018 by Subrata Dhar, Global Partnership for Education and Carolina Valenzuela, Global Partnership for Education |
5 minute read

Sudan has endured several armed conflicts that devastated the education sector. Recognizing that a strong education system can promote peace and prevent conflict, the government of Sudan, with support from GPE and other donors, has taken notable steps to ensure that more children have access to quality education.

  • GPE partner: since 2012
  • Challenges tackled: low quality of education; inefficient distribution of textbooks; poor school infrastructure; insufficient data collection
  • Innovation: community-led development approach; school grants
  • Grant amount: US$76.5 million (2013-2018)

Sudan’s civil war caused devastating human and development costs and contributed to the destabilization of the region: approximately 2 million people died and up to 4 million citizens were internally displaced, with an additional 600,000 Sudanese forced to flee into exile.

In 2005, the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement presented an opportunity for peace, development, and economic prosperity. However, the secession of South Sudan, combined with inequitable distribution of public goods and services and limited infrastructure, continued to present obstacles to more inclusive growth.

Sudan’s education challenges

Sudan has one of the largest numbers of out-of-school children in the Middle East and North Africa region: approximately 2.5 million children are not in school1, with girls being more than half of them. The quality of education is poor; and there is a desperate need for textbooks, trained teachers, and better school infrastructure.

5th grade classroom at Shaheed Zubaer basic school for boys, Sudan. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
5th grade classroom at Shaheed Zubaer basic school for boys, Sudan.
GPE/Kelley Lynch

GPE’ support to Sudan

GPE supports the government’s efforts to ensure all children have access to quality education in partnership with the World Bank and UNICEF. While the World Bank supervises the GPE-supported education program in Sudan, UNICEF coordinates donor support to the sector. GPE aims to strengthen Sudan’s education system by improving sector planning; promoting inclusive policy dialogue; and financing the implementation of selected activities outlined in the education plan.

GPE's support has been instrumental in helping Sudan develop a new education plan for 2018-2022. Developed through a consultative process between the federal ministry of education, state ministries of education, and local and international development partners, the plan is based on a comprehensive analysis of evidence and data.

Additionally, GPE has played a key supportive role in coordinating a strong dialogue between education partners by gradually institutionalizing joint sector reviews (JSRs). Both the government of Sudan and development partners expect them to be an integral component of the education sector planning and monitoring from now on.

Strong education systems begin with accurate data

After the initial phase of planning, GPE’s funding is focusing on improving the learning environment, increasing the number of textbooks and learning materials, and strengthening planning and management within the education sector.

To establish assessment systems and strengthen the capacity of the ministry of education to ensure that data on learning outcomes is available, GPE's support focused on building three key systems to drive progress:

  1. Teacher database: Completed in 2016, it includes teachers’ data on qualifications, years of experience, career grades and teaching assignments. This dataset was instrumental to conduct the education sector analysis and develop the new education plan, financed by a GPE sector plan development grant.
  2. National learning assessment: In 2015, GPE supported the Sudanese Ministry of Education to conduct the first national assessment of early grade learning. The results were used for a school grants program, an initiative also supported by GPE. A second assessment of grades 3 and 6 was conducted in early 2018.
  3. Rapid education management information system (EMIS): While the system had already been established, it only became operational with support from GPE. Now, data is regularly collected; capacity building takes place and management has improved. The EMIS currently provides the most reliable information on basic and secondary education in Sudan.
A student identifies letters (he has one minute to identify up to 100 letters) during the GPE supported National Learning Assessment in Sudan. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
A student identifies letters (he has one minute to identify up to 100 letters) during the GPE supported National Learning Assessment in Sudan.
GPE/Kelley Lynch

Promoting a conducive learning environment

To make education affordable for the most vulnerable communities, GPE supported a school grants program, the first of its kind in Sudan. The program makes small grants rapidly available to schools to finance uniforms and other running costs. To date 5,300 schools in 74 communities received grants.

GPE also helped with classroom construction to alleviate the rising student-to-classroom ratio. So far over 1,600 classrooms have been constructed, primarily in poor rural areas with weak learning outcomes and areas that have been devastated by conflict.

Students at Umdebekrat Basic School for Boys, recipients of a GPE school grant and textbooks; Nyala South Locality, South Darfur, Sudan. Credit: GPE/Kelley Lynch
Students at Umdebekrat Basic School for Boys, recipients of a GPE school grant and textbooks; Nyala South Locality, South Darfur, Sudan.
GPE/Kelley Lynch

Empowering communities to take change in their own hands

To ensure the sustainability of the Sudanese education system and achieve long-term behavior change, GPE helps empower communities to take an active role in the education process. Communities have been encouraged to identify their own needs and oversee school construction and resource mobilization, which has led to a decrease in construction costs and an increase in community ownership.

The GPE grant to Sudan has been used to provide millions of textbooks to schools throughout the country; Khartoum, Sudan.
The GPE grant to Sudan has been used to provide millions of textbooks to schools throughout the country; Khartoum, Sudan.
GPE/Kelley Lynch

More textbooks to improve learning outcomes

To address the significant shortage of textbooks in Sudan, specifically in schools affected by conflict or in IDP camps where textbook shortages are severe, GPE has financed the production and distribution of 22 million textbooks to students. Now every student in grades 1-8 has access to textbooks in mathematics, science, Arabic and English.

Before, up to four students used to share one textbook. Students couldn't do their homework since there was no way for them to take the book home. Now each student has a book and s/he can take it home.

Abdirahman Azain, headmaster Umdebekrat Basic School for Boys Nyala South Locality, South Darfur, Sudan

GPE interventions lead to results

Interventions supported by GPE and the World Bank have achieved impressive results: sector planning has improved; JSRs have been established to improve policy dialogue; and a new education sector plan for 2018-2022 to help the government prioritize interventions has been developed.

Thanks to efforts from the government of Sudan, GPE, and partners including the World Bank (the grant agent) and UNICEF (the coordinating agency), more children are now in school and learning, and systems to assess learning have been established, putting educational performance on a steady upward path.

According to preliminary results from a national learning assessment, schools supported by GPE achieved better learning outcomes than the rest of the schools, proving that GPE interventions have been effective. Between 2014-2017 the oral reading fluency in students attending GPE-supported schools improved from 12 words per minute to 15.5 and the percentage of non-readers decreased from 47% to 42%. The impact is better understood when we know that these schools were worse off compared to the other schools in the sample before intervention.

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Financing, Learning, Literacy
Sub-Saharan Africa: Sudan

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The contribution of GPE is highly appreciated for the out-of-school children in Sudan. Education is the best thing for each individual in life. The empowerment through knowledge will trampoline holistic development in Sudan. Thanks GPE

my name is Mimona, I am currently a student at the University of Adelaide in Australia studying Health and Medical Science. I am currently working on a project to start a school in Sudan and wanted to know the required protocols. Also wanted to see if there is any opportunities to collaborate.

Kind Regards

In reply to by mimona

Hi Mimona, the Global Partnership for Education works with governments of partner countries to support their efforts in strengthening their education systems. Our support responds to the government's priorities and needs. This is why we wouldn't be able to advise you on the process to start a school, which would be outside of the public education system.

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