Sudan: Building the foundation for a strong education system
- GPE supported the government of Sudan to provide access to education for some of the country’s most disadvantaged and remote communities.
- With GPE’s support, the Sudanese government made strides in strengthening sector planning and management as well as improved the learning environment by building classrooms, training teachers, strengthening systems and distributing textbooks.
- GPE funding also helped the Ministry of Education to conduct the first national assessment of early grade learning.
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 were not in school in 2017, more than half of which were girls (UIS).
The quality of education is poor and there is a significant need for trained teachers, textbooks, and better school infrastructure, among other needs, to build the foundations for a sustainable education system.
GPE’s support to Sudan
GPE supports the government’s efforts to ensure all children have access to quality education. Working in partnership with the World Bank and UNICEF, GPE aimed to strengthen Sudan’s education system by:
- improving sector planning and management
- promoting inclusive policy dialogue
- financing the implementation of selected activities outlined in the education plan
GPE's support, particularly through its education sector plan development grant, was instrumental in helping Sudan prepare a new education plan for the period 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 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 JSRs to continue to be an integral component of the education sector planning and monitoring.
Strong education systems begin with accurate data
To establish assessment systems and strengthen the capacity of the Ministry of Education to ensure that data on learning outcomes is available, for both planning and monitoring of interventions, GPE's support focused on building three key systems:
- Teacher management database: Completed in 2016, it includes data on teachers’ qualifications, years of experience and career grades as well as teaching assignments. This dataset was instrumental to prioritize the areas most in need for in-service and pre-service training and for policy and strategies at the locality, state and federal levels.
- National learning assessment: In 2015, GPE supported the Ministry of Education to conduct the first national assessment of early grade learning. The results were used to inform improvements as well as a school grants program, an initiative also supported by GPE. A second assessment, of grades 3 and 6, was conducted in 2018.
- Annual school census/rapid surveys: Conducted regularly during the last four years of the GPE program, these surveys collected data on school type, location, student enrollment by grade, teachers and qualifications, to name a few. These surveys currently provide the most reliable and consistent information on basic and secondary education in Sudan.
Promoting an environment conducive to learning
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 purchase furniture, lab equipment, and other teaching and learning materials identified as priorities by the communities. Nearly 6,400 communities in 83 localities received grants, benefitting 1.5 million students.
GPE also helped with classroom construction to help prevent overcrowded classes. As a result of the program interventions, 1,226 classrooms were constructed or rehabilitated, primarily in poor rural areas with weak learning outcomes and in areas devastated by conflict. Incentivized by this achievement, the government of Sudan then went on to finance the construction and rehabilitation of 340 additional classrooms, thereby bringing the total number of new classrooms to 1,566.
To address the significant shortage of textbooks in Sudan, specifically in schools affected by conflict or in camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs), GPE financed the production and distribution of 22 million textbooks to students. The number of textbooks procured at the end of the GPE program was much higher than the initial target of 9 million. Every student in grades 1 to 8 now has access to textbooks in mathematics, science, Arabic and English.
Furthermore, with GPE support, 66,000 teachers in 189 localities have been trained on the revised textbook content, practice assessments, and related teaching methodologies. Each locality developed at least two master trainers in math and Arabic for grades 1 to 3.
More textbooks make a difference in Sudan
GPE interventions lead to results
Interventions supported by GPE achieved impressive results: sector planning improved and helped the government prioritize interventions; JSRs improved policy dialogue; and a new education sector plan for 2018-2022 was developed.
Thanks to efforts of the government of Sudan, GPE and partners, more children are in school and learning, and systems to assess learning have been established, putting educational performance on a steady upward path.
Furthermore, to ensure the sustainability of the Sudanese education system, GPE has helped 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.
According to preliminary results from a national learning assessment, schools supported by GPE achieved better learning outcomes than those not supported, clearly demonstrating the effectiveness of the GPE program. Furthermore, 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%.