|The EFA 2000 Assessment: Country Reports|
Part III Prospects
3 - 1 : The Education for All Assessment Results :
The analytical and descriptive study mentioned in the previous sections of this report showed the following results:
First : The Sudanese government and society spared no effort to promote the basic education and to make it accessible for all and compulsory :
These efforts translated into:
- political support and initiatives such as holding conferences to study and promote education (the 1990 Education Policies Conference) and adopting the recommendations of such conferences (the cabinet's resolutions regarding basic education-1990 as mentioned in this report);
- passing the laws extending the scope of basic education and making it an unconditional right for all (the 1992 public education law and its explanatory lists, the 1991 illiteracy elimination and adults education law, the 1996 national center law for school curricula and educational research, the 1998 linguistic planning law);
- elaborating policies, strategies, plans and programmes supporting the basic education process (the 1991-1994 expanding basic education plan, the 1990-1995 national plan for illiteracy elimination and adults education, the 1992 national strategy for the public education sector);
- the 1995 presidential decree defining the functions of the Federal Ministry with respect to educational planning, development of curricula, teachers' training, illiteracy elimination and supervision of public and private education;
- following up the implementation of the strategy programmes and providing the necessary financial means through the public funding, the Education Support Fund, government funding, the States Support Fund and allocating at least 25% of the local revenues as basic education expenditures, encouraging investment in the sector of education and allocating part of the customs revenues and expatriates financial capacities for education;
- following up the execution of the alternatives proposed by the strategy aiming at expanding the basic education scope to reach the nomads, displaced people and youth in remote areas, or those who dropped out school for one reason or another and taking care of females;
- diversifying the illiteracy elimination and adults education programmes in a manner to fit the desires and inclinations of learners and tailor the curricula to their needs.
Second : In the field of pre-school education, the assessment showed the following facts :
The enrollment rate of children within the (4-5) age-group is less than 20% for the whole country, but this figure reached 30% in the northern states. Despite the low average percentage for the entire country (North, South, West and East), this percentage reached 40% in some states and even 56.8% for females in the State of Ash Shamaliyah (the Northern State). One positive phenomenon is that the percentage of children enrolling in the first grade of the basic education in 1998 and who received a pre-school education has reached an average of 47% for both sexes and 53% for females.
The basic problem of pre-school education is the enormous disparity in the enrollment rate on the geographical level and not between the two genders. In 1998-1999, it reached 48% among states with the highest percentage being 50.7% and the lowest 2.1%. The other problem is the low apparent enrollment rate, which is 19.2% for the (4-5) age-group for both sexes in whole Sudan. The reason for this relatively low percentage is that pre-school education was never given the importance it is given now. Until recently, pre-school education was a non-formal education established, supervised, managed and financed by the society despite its importance in the preparation of the child for basic education and its significant role in mending the disparities that could be the result of social or family background and that hamper the future success in education. The current policies regarding pre-school education suffice to promote it and make it accessible to all. However, to guarantee its future implementation, the following supporting measures should be taken:
- establishing a national programme which meets the unification requirements and respects the environmental, cultural, ethnic and religious diversity requirements and train the teachers on its content while emphasizing nationalism.;
- creating a central coordination and follow-up administration to guarantee the implementation of pre-school policies, plans and programmes on the states and local levels;
- training the pre-school education teacher on the special needs of children in this phase;
- passing of laws and regulations supporting the implementation of pre-school education policies;
- attracting technical and financial support in order to ensure the balance in providing and expanding the scope of pre-school education;
- allocating a centralized subsidy from the annual budget to establish pre-school education administrations and institutions in regions suffering from a low enrollment rate;
- continuing the extension of mosques and churches, kindergartens and Holy Koran teaching places and integrating them in the national programme for pre-school education;
- encouraging the private sector investment in pre-school education, as well as encouraging the local society on setting up kindergartens under the technical supervision of pre-school education administrations;
- elaborating a detailed plan to expand pre-school education in the first decade of the third millennium;
- preserving the quality of pre-school education through an intensive training of teachers after a thorough selection process and providing the right conditions to ensure fully qualified teachers.
Third : in the field of expanding and completing basic education by year 2000:
The formal basic education obtained a continuous political support from 1990 till 1999, year of preparation of this report. Such support translated into political speeches, legislation, developing and following up efficient policies, supporting, activating and developing the implementing bodies, as well as providing and promoting education inputs as already mentioned in this report.
The assessment results for the school years 1990-1991 throughout 1998-1999 as regards the numbers of students admitted in the first grade of the basic education indicated the following:
1- The intake rate growth reached 4% and it is higher among females (4.8%) in comparison with males (3.3%).
2- The enrollment rate growth reached 4% and it is also higher among females (4.9) when compared to males (3.4%).
3- The intake rate reached 71.2% for both genders.
4- There is an annual 4% increase in intake rates which means that if the same amount of efforts is being deployed and inputs used, while keeping the same percentages of admissions (that is 0.6% for boys, 1.3% for girls and 0.9% for both genders), the expansion of basic education will take more than 10 years.
5- Despite the increase in the absolute numbers of enrollment, there was a continuous decrease in the enrollment rates in the period extending from 1990 till 1999 where it reached its lowest level at 52.2%.
This is due to the following reasons:
The effects of war and natural disasters.
The number of inhabitants in the (6-13) age-group was only an estimate based on the 1983 through 1993 population census.
There is a clear loss in the basic education stage especially in high-grades classes as it reaches 28% in the eighth grade.
The population growth in the (6-13) age-group (1.6% for boys, 2.2% for girls and 1.9% for both genders) which reaches 3.2% for both genders at thirteen years of age is faster than the growth of enrollment rates. This reflects an increase of education demand and a stability in education availability.
6- The disparity between the enrollment and intake rates for both genders is decreasing every year.
7- There is a disparity of 64 degrees in intake rates among states with the highest percentage being 98% and the lowest 34%.
8- A disparity also exists in enrollment rates which vary between 12.5% and 87%.
9- The pupils of some educational patterns were not included in theformal basic education and their number reaches 535,000 male and female learners. Those patterns are known as displaced and youth schools as well as training centers on life skills. Should those learners be added to the figures of pupils enrolled in basic education, the enrollment rate for the year 1998 would reach 61.5%.
The basic education curricula are completed and have the following features:
11- The basic education financial resources multiplied, with the local society dedicating 25% of its revenues as education expenditures. However, the disparity in financial capacities and public contribution, coupled with the inability of some communities to meet the education requirements resulted in a considerable disparity in enrollment and intake rates among communities, in spite of the centralized subsidy distributed according to the needs of each society as mentioned in this report.
12- From the foregoing, there appear numerous problems pertaining to the disparities in learning opportunities, obstacles hindering the attainment of objectives concerning intake and enrollment indicators, and the lack of funds.
To overcome the above problems, educational policies and procedural measures should be taken through:
- the review of the social structure by lifting the burden of social services from the poor through the government's provision of education in the impoverished areas;
- the encouragement of the private sector's investment in basic education given its positive effects on improving performance and quality as well as participation in the educational work. The drawbacks of the private sector's involvement, however, are the aggravation of the existing disparities and the draining of teaching competencies at the expense of public teaching given the much better service conditions the private sector can offer;
- the provision of educational requirements of the school environment while accounting for the equilibrium in the distribution of teachers and pupils;
- the extension of the scope of Basic Education for All according to various patterns such as the schools for youth, displaced people and nomads as well as Koranic, complementary and village schools, as well as the search for new patterns that suit border regions characterized by special circumstances while taking into consideration the intake opportunities and competitiveness;
- the encouragement of researches and studies in order to find low-cost resources meeting the competence and quality requirements;
- the drawing of foreign assistance for basic education since it is considered as an international concern and a human fundamental right;
- the cooperation with the African nations for the implementation of the recommendations of the African Ministers of Education Conference (March 1999) pertaining to the implementation of the Education Decade Schedule in Africa (1997-2006), especially the recommendation concerning the swap of debts for education purposes by turning these debts to investments in the Education sector. The adoption also of the recommendations of the seventh 1998 Conference of African Ministers of Education calling for the expanding and improvement of education by promoting national languages and finding an efficient mechanism to coordinate the formal and non-formal education patterns.
Fourth : Improving learning achievements and outcomes :
The assessment tackled the problem of the internal education efficiency mainly because of its direct effect on learning achievements and outcomes:
- the assessment results showed that the repetition rate till the fifth grade for the scholastic year1998-1999 has reached 11.4% for both genders and is higher among females;
- the disparity in the repetition rate till the fifth grade varies among states. It reached 14.3%, the highest percentage being equal to 16.9% and the lowest 2.6%;
- the failing rates till the fifth grade reached 9.7%;
- the failing and repetition phenomena resulted in the decrease of the number of pupils continuing school till the fifth grade. It was noted that 25% of students enrolled in the first grade fail before reaching the fifth grade. This rate reaches 60% in some regions in Sudan and drops to 11% only in other regions;
- the results of the assessment showed that the rate of pupils continuing their education till the fifth grade is higher in urban areas than in rural areas, and higher among males in comparison with females in rural areas;
- there is a disparity in the coefficient of efficiency among states to the advantage of rich states. It is also higher among girls in comparison with boys, among lower-grade classes of the basic education in comparison with high-grade classes as well as in urban areas as compared to rural areas;
- the ghost of illiteracy is looming back on the rural areas because the educational achievement has dropped beyond 40%. This is a major problem that needs to be tackled fast;
- it was not possible to estimate educational achievement and outcomes since the results of the Educational Achievement Study carried out on the fourth grade classes in Sudan in 1995 were not available at the time of drafting this report which is supposed to be ready at the end of October 1999. For this reason, the results of the basic level certificate examinations were used to evaluate the educational performance. For comparison purposes, the Arabic language course was considered to evaluate reading and writing skills, and sciences, geography and mathematics to determine life skills;
- the outcome showed a weakness in mathematics among all those who sat for the exams. The disparity in the passing results in this course is great among the different states. They equal an average of 31.6% and drop in one State to 12.5%.;
- the problems facing learning performance and outcomes are a significant loss amounting to 25% among those receiving basic education and a sensible weakness in the achievements in mathematics;
- this situation requires a rapid intervention to establish education policies capable of tackling the problem through :
1 . setting up of an assessment research unit within the General Department for Educational Assessment and Examinations to perform a study on the diminishing quality of education and trying to find ways of improvement;
2 . intensifying vocational training for education departments at all levels;
3 . providing and improving teaching inputs and development of school environment;
4 . involving the public in education concerns and debates and using multimedia for public sensitization;
5. improving the academic, professional and living conditions of teachers.
Fifth : Lowering the illiteracy of adults and narrowing the educational disparities between males and females :
Illiteracy is traditionally the inability to write, read and understand a simple account of everyday life. The skills in reading, writing and numeracy required to eliminate it are still a problem for the international society around us which is moving from the traditional illiteracy to the modern illiteracy that is the inability to handle and make use of technology.
The assessment indicates a considerable development in the area of illiteracy elimination throughout the past nine years. In 1990, illiteracy rates reached an average of 48.4% for both sexes above 15 years of age (60% for females). However, the literacy rates in 1999 increased to an average of 57.2% for both sexes (67.3% for males and 47.1% for females). Those figures represent the average rates in Africa according to the report of the Conference of the African Ministers of Education held in Durban in 1998 where males literacy was represented as equal to 67% and females literacy to 46%.
From the above, one can notice that
The problems highlighted by the assessment in the area of illiteracy can be summarized as follows:
- educational disparities between sexes (to the advantage of males), geographical regions and urban and rural areas (to the advantage of urban areas);
- slight improvement in the literacy in general and among males in particular;
- low literacy rate among females;
- the on-going side effects of illiteracy where we still witness high levels of loss.
Such problems may be attributable to the lack of funds, qualified teachers and irrelevance of the school curriculum to the needs of the learners. With the view to finding solutions to these problems, the third program in the National Strategy that comprises the education sector aims at broadening the basic education scope through the opening of youth schools which are equivalent to the basic schools of the (8-14) age-group. Such schools are aimed mainly at pupils, especially girls, who had either never attended school or had dropped out at an early age.
The program strives also to increase the literacy of the productive group of society (15-45 years of age) from both genders to 90% by the year 2000. This would require the multiplication of the actual efforts by five folds at least with respect to funds as well as human and other physical inputs. It would also necessitate the mobilization of the youth during their spare times to devise new ways of illiteracy elimination.
To achieve the desired objectives the following measures should be taken:
- involving all society categories, especially students, youth organizations and the women sector in the elimination of illiteracy;
- mobilizing public media to sensitize the citizens to the problem of illiteracy that is hindering the progress and the global development of the nation;
- proposing plans and programmes aiming at eradicating illiteracy and postulating the assistance of the international society for the implementation of such plans and programmes;
- making use of the continuous political support and the twinning programmes among states to draw moral assistance and financial aids for the eradication of illiteracy;
- integrating illiteracy eradication programmes into the economic development projects as part of a human investment aiming at succeeding those programmes. Allocating a percentage of the revenues from the development programmes to the illiteracy eradication programmes (as done in the case of El Jazira Project, 5% of which revenues are allocated for the sector of services (Education and Health)) can do this;
- coordinating and merging of planning units working in the sector of basic education, eradication of illiteracy and education of adults;
- directing development and educational research and studies in the higher education institutions towards the study of ways for eradicating illiteracy.
Sixth : Expanding the scope of basic education and the training on basic skills needed by youth and adults
The report noted that the efforts deployed in the field of widening the scope of basic education are starting to pay off, especially in the areas of youth and nomads education.
The success of the nomads education could be ascribed to the political support and relevant educational research, as well as to support of the UNICEF. The essential factors behind such success are the personal contribution of the beneficiaries in terms of promotion and provision of inputs.
One of the education facets that drew most the international, national and local attention is the issue of women education. Numerous research studies, symposiums and conferences were held and recommendations made to integrate women education in the framework of renovation and educational projects. Some of the projects that were successful in this field are the farming and school nutrition project -as aforementioned in this report - which contributes to the improvement and acquiring of skills needed by the youth and the adults. The civil war that caused a difficult education situation in some of the regions resulted in the development of the rescue project for the education of children affected by war and which comprises more than 500,000 girls and boys distributed among the war regions.
In light of the successful trials the educational policy aims at the following :
- setting up educational plans to promote education in war zones;
- increasing the education chances for disadvantaged groups such as the children of migrants, youth and girls;
- providing village schools in border and low-density regions;
- making pre-school education accessible to all;
- increasing craftsmanship centers to absorb the educational loss;
- promoting practical education in basic schools and increasing its importance in the school planning till 25%;
- promoting special education to reach all the groups of disabled pupils and devoting attention to outstanding pupils and helping them develop their capabilities;
- training teachers on untraditional ways of teachings to help them acquire the capacity on dealing with all proposed teaching ways in order to broaden the scope of basic education.
Seventh: Spending on education :
Policies that were established with the view to ensuring financial resources for education were supposed to be sufficient for the provision of education requirements and inputs. In fact, education was made the responsibility of the entire society, with the policies aiming at augmenting and diversifying financial resources through the mobilization of the population and adopting centralized budgets to ensure equilibrium, reduce educational disparities and encourage investments.
The assessment revealed that the mobilization of the population served to meet the set objectives successfully. However, the centralized subsidization to provide equilibrium and investment in education were not to the level expected as the share of education in government allocations did not exceed 7% which was reflected clearly by the disparities in learning opportunities between states.
External subsidies were very meager during the nineties and the participants in the Jomtien Conference had but a shy role in supporting education in Sudan. They were limited to UNICEF's very restricted contribution in comparison to its contributions in other sectors and UNESCO's technical support. The United Nations Development Fund and the World Bank did not have any part in the field of basic education. The support of the United Nations Development Fund for population activities had a much-appreciated role in the field of education renovations in the basic stage and the financing of 12% of the preparation costs of the present report.
The report indicates that the percentage of general expenditures on basic education with respect to the Gross National Product has increased tremendously between 1990 and 1998. Moreover, the average cost of basic education per student has increased sensibly as compared to the individual share of citizens of the Gross National Product, reflecting, thus, the importance of the basic education in the priorities of annual budgets.
It is noteworthy that the share of basic education in the public budget (public expenditures on education) has skyrocketed from 13.7% in 1990 to 43.3% in 1998. The first part (salaries and emoluments) represents 74% of the total of expenditures on basic education.
The major issue is that the actual expenditure policy on basic education did not solve the problem of inequality of access, neither did it improve the educational quality and the school environment since the majority of expenditures goes to paying teachers' salaries.
It is of the utmost importance that such policies be backed by the following measures:
- increasing the share of education in government allocations from 7% to at least 25%;
- making research and studies to find new financial resofor basic education;
- attracting foreign support for education independently from political issues;
- rationalizing education expenditures without adversely affecting its quality through:
Eighth : Teachers issues :
Teachers were chosen, qualified and helped to get stability and promotion opportunities in their career. However, the unprecedented development in basic education and the increase of the duration of the basic education level to eight years in 1991 led to the decrease in the numbers of well-trained teachers. The radical change of the school curriculum and the introduction of the English language to the basic education starting from the fifth grade contributed to this decrease as it required the training and re-training of great numbers of teachers to ensure high standards of teaching.
The assessment showed that the percentage of teachers attaining the minimum level of learning achievements (secondary level) is beneath 70% and decreases till 50% in rural areas.
The ratio of pupils to teachers is on an average 1:29 but it reaches in some regions 1:66 which reflects a great unbalance in teachers distribution.