The Arabized (North) Sudan, which is shaped by Islam, was contrasted for a long time with the South, in which traditional African religions and Christianity predominate, which dates back to the activities of American and European missionaries in the 19th and 20th centuries. In South Sudan, therefore, mainly schools led by missionaries were opened. In the north, Koran schools and government schools were mainly concerned with the formal education of the population. Many reasons for the country’s current political and sociological problems have their origins there.
In the first years after independence, Sudan was known for its high level of education. Up until the mid-1980’s, the number of educational institutions in the north was expanded. But the level of education began to decline as early as the late 1970’s, the reasons being the deterioration in the political and economic situation and in the south and the Nuba Mountains, above all the internal armed conflicts. Teachers and lecturers were poorly paid and brain drains began in the petrodollar states, Europe, the USA and Canada. Today the proportion of the literate population is estimated at approx. 53.5%, whereby the proportion of literate women is significantly lower.
According to historyaah, the Sudanese school system is divided into eight years of elementary education (Basic Education, from 6 to 13 years of age), which is free of charge, and three years in secondary education (14-17 years of age). According to UNICEF, only around 70% of Sudanese children go to school, with strong regional differences. Especially girls, it is (about 12 years) hardly possible after a certain age to attend a further education school.
The ambitious ideas of Sudan’s education policy are countered by constant cuts in the education budget.
To promote the vocational school sector, a separate vocational training policy was formulated after the secession of the south. To date, however, there are only a few vocational schools in the capital, such as the Technical and Teachers Training College.
The number of universities and colleges has increased in recent years. There are 11 relevant universities. The most important state universities in the country are the University of Khartoum as the oldest university in the country, the Al-Zaiem Alazhari University, also located in Khartoum, the University of Science and Technology in Omdurman and the University of Gezira. The University of Khartoum ranks 35th in the list of top 200 African universities in 2020. In 2018, it was 25th.
All Sudanese public universities currently charge tuition fees of around € 100 per year; the much better equipped private universities are only an option for wealthy families. A good example of how and what a recommended private university teaches is the only women’s university in Africa, the Ahfad University for Women in Omdurman. The proportion of women among Sudanese students was slightly over 52% in 2017 and is therefore a high percentage in a regional comparison. In total, an average of 17% of a year is currently enrolled.
The biggest problems in the Sudanese higher education system are the shortage of teaching staff, caused by poor pay and the resulting migration abroad and the qualifications of the remaining teaching staff, coupled with a lack of teaching material. The educational deficits in the higher education sector are the result of unsuccessful higher education policies and decades of civil war. In addition, the US policy of sanctions hit the Sudanese universities.
The fact that English is also the official language is due to the agreements in the peace agreement with the then southern part of the country from 2005. Since Sudan has still not managed to adopt a new constitution after the secession of South Sudan, the interim constitution of 2005 applies. English is spoken only by a small part of the population, either by older people who spoke English before Arabization learned under Numeiri in school or meanwhile from the cosmopolitan youth.
According to the constitution, lower administrative levels can legislate to recognize other national languages as an additional official working language at their level in addition to Arabic.
About 75 living languages and a variety of dialects have been documented. An example of the multitude of languages is the Nuba population in the Nuba Mountains, which does not represent a single ethnic group. The main languages in the west are Fur and Haussa, and in the northeast Bedawi.