Islands of Education: Schooling, civil war and the Southern Sudanese (1983-2004)
by Marc Sommers

Image of publicationVictims of warfare, famine, slavery, and isolation, the Southern Sudanese are one of the most undereducated populations in the world. Since the inception of formal education in southern Sudan a century ago, schooling has largely consisted of island-like entities surrounded by oceans of educational emptiness. Islands of Education is the first book to comprehensively examine this harrowing educational reality.

The most recent civil war in southern Sudan raged unrelentingly for 21 years and left approximately 2 million civilians dead, 5 million internally displaced, and half a million as refugees. Drawing on extensive fieldwork in the region and archival research, this book examines the educational situation of Southern Sudanese in its three primary contexts: within southern Sudan, in refugee asylum countries, and in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum. It sheds light upon the disastrous consequences of underinvesting in education during conflict, serious deficiencies in the co-ordination of education, a direct connection between quality education and compensating teachers, alarmingly low levels of representation of girls in schools, the dangers of involving military personnel in the management of education, and the invasive effects of state dominance on learning for the internally displaced. With an eye to southern Sudan’s new era of peace, the study recommends ways to create access to quality education for Southern Sudanese children and youth and enhance the development of an education system.

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