The ABCs of Sustainable Development Goals and Sudan’s situation V


Goal Four: Quality Education

By Dr. Hassan Humeida

Kiel, Germany: Sustainable Development Goal 4 (SDG 4) aims to provide quality, equitable and comprehensive education for everyone, with access to education for all and throughout life.

Education is taken here as an ideal means of escaping the burden of poverty, the tyranny of hunger, and the spread of disease, especially in developing countries and sub-Saharan African states.

Since 90% of children in developing countries attend the primary stage of school, a large percentage does not have the opportunity to complete this important stage of life.

In areas where wars and conflicts are widespread, 50% of children lose their opportunity to enroll in primary school. This stage is considered one of the most important stages for children and their development, in which their latent internal talents are refined and explode.

During this period, children learn the basics of reading and writing, as well as the rules of languages and arithmetic. Early attention to the children and teaching them the essentials of learning from a young age also play an important role in early excellence in the school stages.

In many poor countries, the family is unable to fulfill its promise or commitment to educating the children, attending school, or completing primary education.

This is the result of several factors that include the lack of a school in the area where the family lives, the lack of teachers, classrooms, school furniture, and teaching materials such as books, notebooks, pens, etc., the non-existence of school meals for the children, and the lack of a suitable place in the school for children with special needs.

Other factors include sexual discrimination, the separation of girls’ and boys’ education, the lack of the possibility of integrating children into unified classes or schools for religious, cultural or ethnic reasons, the absence of of two parents to care for the children and cover their school expenses, and the family’s need for the children to take up work to increase their income and improve their living conditions.

The last reason, child labor, is the most common in poor countries. It is a matter of utter sadness when the burden of the family’s livelihood falls on the child at an early age, while children in rich countries enjoy greater attention and protection that enable them to be leaders in the future.

Illiteracy is widespread in poor sub-Saharan African countries, reaching 27% among men and 40% among women. Globally, only 4 out of 10 children are able to read and write, the consequences of which are reflected in the slow development and advancement of society and the challenges to rescue it from the clutches of illiteracy, ignorance and backwardness.

During the Corona pandemic, it became clear to everyone what poverty means even in the field of education (The Poor Education). This is when most countries had to close schools as a precaution against the spread of the Corona virus and infections, so that students could receive school education at home.

At that time, it became clear to the poor societies that they were far from achieving the possibility of implementing distance education for their children easily, regardless of the quality of learning.

If we take here only the availability of electricity, network connectivity, or the availability of computers and their connection between the teachers and the students, we find that there is a technical gap that the poor countries cannot easily fill. Such challenges did not represent any obstacle to the rich countries of the world that were equipped technically and practically to address the school and educational deficit at the right time.

Such a situation does not apply only to school education in poor countries, but it was also applicable to the curriculum and to continuing university education during the outbreak of the pandemic.

Compared with the situation of rich countries at the height of the Corona pandemic and its consequences, only a limited number of developing countries – somewhat well-off – were able to keep up and continue the education process without major obstacles.

Hence, educational breakthroughs occur in countries in times of crises. Some of them are positive and lead to the desired goal, as is the case in developed countries, while others are negative, mainly for developing and poor countries that now must pay a heavy price by falling behind for many years.

There is a deep reliance on vocational and university education for sustainable development and on ways to achieve it. This is because education is a safe way for societies out from poverty, hunger and disease, as well as a lifeline and a safe way for achieving gender equality in social rights and practical opportunities.

We find that educating women, for example, is one of the very important things in modern society that ensures the education of family members, including sons and daughters, in the future.

For example, when a mother is educated, she can teach her children lessons in real time and help them with their daily schoolwork.

This reflects positively on their school achievement at all levels, and thus secures a path for them to complete vocational or university education, and the availability of suitable opportunities for work after graduation.

In this regard, the late leader Nelson Mandela had one of his famous quotes about education, when he said: “Education is the most powerful weapon you can use to change the world.”

Education promotes the health of individuals and communities, and monitors ways to prevent infectious and non-communicable diseases by avoiding them through direct education and receiving useful information through several methods and channels.

Education in the current era means, in its simplest form, social progress, economic growth, financial rationalization, and global sustainability. But education, especially of good quality, requires basic components, namely the qualification of teachers, the infrastructure of schools, basic and vocational education institutions, and universities, to keep pace globally.

Education in all its various stages depends on the best qualification of school and educational staff, with the help of qualification courses, continuous training, and the exchange of experiences among participants.

Pluralism in fields and specializations and linking them (interdisciplinary education) also plays an important role in the modern era of education.

Through this pluralism, it is possible to gain information, experiences, and professional and practical expertise, which will bear fruit for everyone who follows this advanced approach, and does not rise above learning and academic achievement.

This is something that happens daily in institutions of developed countries, especially within the scope of consultative meetings (board meetings) or scientific sessions (journal clubs).

In this regard, we return to “good education” to some of the well-established beacons of education in Sudan, starting with some of these lofty edifices:

The University of Khartoum, Sudan University of Science and Technology and University of Khartoum: The construction of Gordon Memorial College began in 1899 and it was officially opened in 1902 under the name of Gordon Memorial College, referring to the Governor-General of Sudan at the time, British General Charles George Gordon.

Later, it was renamed Khartoum University College, and the University of Khartoum in 1956.

The opening of Gordon Memorial College coincided with the founding of the Khartoum Technical School and the School of Commerce, or the Institute of Technological Colleges, and more recently the Sudan University of Science and Technology.

Then came the establishment of the old Omdurman Scientific Institute in 1912 that became the new Omdurman Islamic University in 1965.

The University of Khartoum has been an academic fortress for Sudan, Africa and many Arab countries. It is attended by students of science and knowledge from all walks of life, and even now, to graduate from various colleges.

It was known in the past for its high level of graduates, which is not less than the academic level of graduates of British universities.

This is after the University of Khartoum’s certificates were accredited to be equal to the certificates of British universities, making it the first African university to have close and direct contact with the University of London in academic fields.

Then came the higher education revolution, which built its idea on relying on the internal components in education and scientific research.

The relevant committees decided at that time to take practical steps to fill the shortage in books and references and the language gap.

Then, the idea of Arabization of books, references, curricula, and the language of instruction in universities came about.

This has confused most university professors and specialized researchers in the country, and weakened the performance of universities, including the prestigious University of Khartoum.

It finally became clear that the Arabization step was not carefully studied by the party responsible for decision-making and implementation, despite the availability of a larger number of study seats for students.

The result was also allowing the establishment of several private universities and colleges that competed with the country’s well-established universities, especially in terms of their teaching staff, resources, means of financing, and so on.

University of Gezira: The University of Gezira was established in 1975.

The selection of this region to establish the university was an extension of the agricultural research established by the British in this fertile region well-known for its agricultural and economic importance, with the presence of the Gezira Project (Gezira Board) in the Blue Nile region.

Its current area is about 2.2 million acres, making it the most important center for agriculture and agricultural research in Africa, with an area the size of the Netherlands.

The Gezira Project, considered the green lung of the country, dates to its founding in 1911 to grow cotton in an area estimated at only about 250 square feet in the Taiba and Karkoj regions, and to feed British textile factories with cotton during the British colonial period in Sudan.

Ahfad University for Women: With regard to women’s education in Sudan, it is necessary to mention Ahfad School, Ahfad College, Ahfad University College, and Ahfad University later.

The university is considered a pioneer in feminist education, not only in Sudan, but also throughout Africa and Arabic-speaking countries.

This well-established educational edifice has faced many obstacles since its founding in 1904, when the late Sheikh Babiker Badri submitted a request to the British government to establish a school to educate girls in Sudan.

The beginning of the establishment of the historic school was in 1907 in the city of Rufaa on the banks of the Blue Nile, not far from the Sudanese capital, Khartoum.

Sheikh Babiker Badri was an intelligent and wise leader, well ahead of his time. His wisdom is embodied by his interest in women’s education at a time when people in the country were ignoring men’s education.

One of his famous sayings, as stated by his daughter, Professor Amna Badri, was “Educate girls and boys so that the country will benefit from them.”

Based on this approach, Sheikh Babakir Badri personally worked on and supervised the education of women in his historic school until his passing.

In his memory, his body was laid to rest in the campus of the important educational edifice that he built and supervised.

The school was transformed into Ahfad University for Women in 1930, and was moved from the city of Rufaa to Omdurman in 1932.

Its management was then supervised by his son, Dean Youssef Badri, who left a clear and influential mark on feminist education in Sudan.

Ahfad College was transformed by Dean Youssef Badri into Ahfad University College in 1966. After the increase in the number of female students and the multiplicity of its colleges, Ahfad University College was elevated to a stand-alone university in 1995.

This well-established university, with a bright history and a prosperous future, is considered a beacon in women’s education, especially in many important areas of society, for the development, advancement and empowerment of women in the fields of science and knowledge and the progress of society.

The International University of Africa: The African Islamic Institute was established in Khartoum in 1966 to include early middle and secondary levels.

It was originally a destination for teaching students from African countries for education and academic achievement, especially for learning or research in the fields of the Arabic language, Islamic education, and heritage studies related to both.

After completing their studies, the students return to their countries, to contribute to transferring their knowledge to interested citizens.

This institute was developed in 1977 to include other important faculties in community studies, and was then called the African Islamic Center, making it an important address, even for employees of ministries in Muslim African countries.

The center was later elevated to the status of International University of Africa, to include colleges with different specializations.

Funding for this important educational edifice for continental communication and foreign education was based on external support from wealthy Muslim countries that reached students as grants and salaries for teachers and staff.

The support was provided through the Islamic Dawa Organization whose Supreme Council and secretariat were chaired, due to its importance by a former president of Sudan and afterwards by a former prime minister following the April 1985 Revolution.

Students from African countries in this global educational institution enjoyed comfortable financial privileges from donors, and they could devote themselves entirely to academic achievement and training at the hands of qualified professors with experience in the Arabic language, the Islamic religion, and the heritage related to both.

The outcome of such efforts was that most of the African student graduates had the opportunity to hold respectable positions in teaching and administration.

Some of them were even able to reach higher job ranks, such as educational supervisors, education directors, college deans, university presidents, and deputy ministers and ministers in their home countries.

University of Bakhtalruda: The founding of Bakhtalruda Institute on the banks of the White Nile is attributed to the British professor, Francis Llewellyn Griffiths, or as his students called him, “Mr. Griffiths.”

After Mr. Griffith graduated in 1922 from Oxford University, he was sent to work in India at St. Andrews College where he was influenced by the philosophy of the late Indian leader Mahatma Gandhi – rural life, living in it, and ways to develop it.

Mr. Griffith has written several books on education, including “Experience in Education”.

He chose the rural area of Bakhtalruda to set up a significant educational edifice in the central countryside of Sudan in 1934. He established the edifice to develop rural people and preserve their wealth and resources through good education and sound training.

This outstanding educational edifice provided many schools and institutes in Sudan and neighboring countries with curricula and books that were composed by Sudanese scholars who were highly familiar with the human environment and its requirements.

At this point, it is necessary to mention the late scholar, Professor Abdulrahman Al Hajj Ali Al Hajj Taha, the first Sudanese dean of the Bakhtalruda after Mr. Griffith.

As his deputy, Professor Abdulrahman succeeded Mr. Griffith, and followed in his footsteps, leaving strong influence in research, education and supervision, and writing books and curricula in Sudan, which made him the undisputed father of education in the country.

Bakhtalruda was also an academic destination in the region for science and research. It was attended by common students as well as by members of royal families. Nobles and princes were also sent there to empower them academically to become future sultans and kings.

The student families had high hopes they would not be disappointed and their sons would make impressive strides in learning, in exploring all facets of knowledge, and in attaining great achievements in all areas.

The institute served as a character builder to enrich the youth with knowledge and science and to train the most efficient teachers at that time in Sudan.

This was at a time when half of the region’s was drowned in slumbers of illiteracy, ignorance, and backwardness.

After it became a beacon of science and knowledge, not only for scholars and learners, but also for researchers and scholars, the institute was in 1995 upgraded into a university that included several colleges needed by the people in the region.

Military education in Sudan – Sudanese Military College:

The Sudanese Military College, was established in 1905, under the name of “The Military School”, by the British Governor-General of Sudan at the time, General Francis Reginald Wingate or “Wingate Pasha.”

The first batch of this military institution, seven graduates, graduated in 1907, during the administration of Al Bakbashi, the late Maqbool Al Amin Al Hajj, the first Sudanese commander of the Sudanese Military College.

This history-making institution was closed several times, including in 1924 following the assassination of Sir Lee Stack in Egypt, and was re-opened in 1932.

The buildings of the Sudanese Military College are in several areas of the Sudanese capital, including Omdurman (Wadi Sayyidna, Karary, and the Medical Corps) and the south of Khartoum (Abu Adam, Al Shajara, and the Armored). There are garrisons in the various states of Sudan with various strengths and defensive duties.

The Sudanese Military College, which also bears the honorary name “Men’s Factory and Heroes’ Den,” is one of the most prestigious military colleges in Africa and the Arab world.

It enrolls annually a large number of students and trainees from African and Arab countries. It builds on the practical aspect through training and on the theoretical aspect through teaching.

The Sudanese Military College grants graduates a military diploma and the rank of lieutenant after three years of study and training.

A bachelor’s degree is awarded alongside the rank of first lieutenant to graduates after four years.

The Sudanese Military College includes the Defence College, War College, Joint Command and Staff College, High Military Academy, Air Force College, and Naval Academy.

Karary University of Military Technology: The Karary University of Military Technology, established in 1994, was conceived as a tertiary educational institution to prepare engineering and technological students to meet the needs of the armed forces and military industries, and to guide the relevant scientific research.

It is considered the most specialized and diverse in military engineering, technology, computer engineering, communications fields, and weapons engineering and manufacturing.

The university has developed thanks to its financial capabilities and qualified educational and training staff, and grants bachelor’s and master’s degrees, and doctorates.

Military education for women in Sudan: Sudanese women have a long history of actively participating in wars; however, this role has diminished in the modern era.

Historically, the “Kandakas”, the Nubian word for ‘Strong Women’ in the Nubian civilization, were the basis for the movement of warriors to defend the large land of Sudan and to penetrate north and occupy other kingdoms to extend prestige and influence.

Yet, this role has declined significantly regarding the participation of women in military and defense institutions. There is now an opportunity for women to participate in this field, in an era in which the major countries are working to ensure that women are represented in all areas, even in the military fields.

Sudanese women may have had the opportunity to participate in this field, in which men usually make up the vast majority. For example, Sudanese women can have a presence in the defense areas as well, including the engineering, technical, and medical fields, to achieve equality with men in job opportunities, within reasonable limits.

Police education in Sudan – College of Police Academy:

The police school in Sudan was founded thanks to the efforts of Mr. Bloomberg in 1910 by stipulating two theoretical and practical aspects in police work.

The efforts of Mr. Aywat in 1924 aimed to develop a vision for the work of the modern police in Sudan.

He pioneered the idea of establishing the first school to qualify and train police officers, which was opened in 1925 in Omdurman.

The Police School was upgraded in 1952 to the Police College, and in the same year it moved from Omdurman to Khartoum.

The National Ribat University: The Police College was upgraded in 2000 to become the National Ribat University, which contains 18 faculties, including the Faculty of Police Science and Law, the Faculty of Economic, Administrative and Financial Sciences, the Faculty of Medicine, the Faculty of Pharmacy, the Faculty of Technology and Health Science, the Faculty of Medical Laboratory Science, the Faculty of Environmental Studies and Disaster Management …

A significant number of students from Sudan and African and Arab countries, especially neighboring countries and countries of East and Central Africa, have graduated from the National Ribat University.

Police education for women in Sudan: Sudanese women have a bright history in police work, an area that they entered early compared with the rest of the peoples of the region.

Sudanese Officer Mrs. Mahasen Al Tazi Abdulwahab is the first female police officer in Africa and the Arab world. She joined the police force in the early 1970s, as the first woman to become a police officer and to become the director of prisons.

Women’s participation in the police is a necessity in modern society, especially since there are criminal cases that require, in the first place, the presence of women’s police who work to carefully investigate women.

There are, for example, situations that require special treatment with women in some crimes, specifically in prisons, at airports and with families and children.

Women have a bright history and hold a prominent position in police work in Sudan, which will keep pace with development and the participation of women in the security of citizens and in the fight against organized crime in the country.

With reference to private commercial educational institutions, and their impact on old educational institutions and the education sector in Sudan as a whole, it can be said that education has suffered greatly in recent years.

This is due to approving a large number of universities and colleges, including some that do not meet the specifications and requirements held by the historical educational institutions in Sudan.

New private, commercial, and for-profit educational institutions have been built at the expense of public universities, with regard to basic financing, academic achievement, and meeting the requirements of students and working educational and academic staff.

The study and training environment does not suit the students’ requirements of housing, subsistence, study, and training, and does not match the needs of the education staff.

This has led to a decline in the general level of students, especially in the absence of training opportunities before graduation and job opportunities afterwards.

This led to the unemployment of fresh graduates and to the failure of the vast majority to find suitable work in their specialties or to obtain decent salaries to enhance their aptitudes in their specialties.

A major consequence of all this is the neglect of an important sector for human development and the advancement of countries.

Another consequence is the neglect of bright minds among all students whose first and last concern is to leave the country, after graduation, to work abroad and sometimes outside the scope of the field that they studied.

The journey ends with most graduates taking up in jobs that are other than their field of study, and sometimes accepting marginal professions that do not meet their expectations and do not match the hardships associated with emigration for the sake of a better life.

Back to Sudan’s position on the important goal of “quality education.”

Despite the arid conditions that have impacted it for several years, Sudan is known to be a pioneering country in education. It is a fact that the Sudanese teachers, male and female, have had the credit for educating many people in the vast geographical area in which Sudan is located.

With the war still plaguing Sudan, it has not been fair for schoolchildren, vocational education students, university students and researchers to miss valuable years of their schooling, educational, academic and research.

Perhaps, the term “Lost Generation” would be the best description of these students who have not had in the past four years any significant educational, scientific, training, or practical achievement.

The years have been wasted since the beginning of the glorious December Revolution, through the Corona pandemic, and now the beginning of the ongoing war in the country.

Until now, these students have not enjoyed education and learning. All the possibilities that should have been made available to them to learn were intentionally blocked to them. I do not know by what means the young men and women will hold high positions in our country, at a time when their education and formation in the country is being disrupted in all their forms.

Unfortunately, and for the last four years, our school, university and academic outcomes have been a huge zero.

How do we want to keep pace with progress and development alongside the rest of the world? How could such terrible things happen to our students, researchers and nation?

There is a senseless and irrational war in Sudan. Yet, there is a need for contemplation on ways to achieve the United Nations’ sustainable development goals by 2030, including quality education for all people in the world, including Sudan as an independent and sovereign country.

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