Urgent Action Needed As Millions Of Children Are Out Of School

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School Children Sudan
The road to freedom begins in the class

Millions of Sudanese school children are not allowed to go to school. UNICEF and Save the Children estimate that approximately 6.9 million girls and boys do not go to school in Sudan, and a further 12 million Sudanese school children will have their school years heavily interrupted. The learning crisis in Sudan might become a generational catastrophe.

KHARTOUM SEPTEMBER 13: UNICEF and Save the Children made a joint statement yesterday and according to them, approximately 6.9 million girls and boys, one in three school-aged children, do not go to school in Sudan, and a further 12 million will have their school years heavily interrupted by a lack of sufficient teachers, infrastructure, and an enabling learning environment to make them reach their full potential.

School is more than just a learning space for children. Beyond reading, writing, and mathematics, children learn social and emotional skills, play in a safe environment, and have access to other critical services. Schools protect children from the physical dangers around them – including abuse, exploitation, and recruitment into armed groups. And they offer psychosocial support, giving children stability and structure in a volatile environment. For many children in Sudan, education is lifesaving!

With the exacerbating socio-economic situation, recurring conflicts, and prolonged COVID-19 school closures, once children drop out of school, the chances of girls and boys returning to school are low. Girls are especially vulnerable: evidence suggests that the economic crisis is deepening gender inequalities in Sudan, especially among adolescent girls.

To prevent further learning loss, reopening of schools, and offering alternative education opportunities for children who missed many years of school is a top priority.

– “Without an ambitious and exerted focus to address these crucial issues, more girls and boys will lose their childhoods to labour, marriage, and other rights violations.” Arshad Malik – Country Director – Save the Children in Sudan.

– “No country can afford to have one-third of its school-age children with no basic literacy, numeracy, or digital skills. Education is not just a right – it’s also a lifeline,” says Mandeep O’Brien – UNICEF Representative in Sudan.

Without urgent action, the learning crisis in Sudan will become a generational catastrophe.

UNICEF and Save the Children – as co-leads of the international education cluster in Sudan – call on the Government of Sudan to reopen schools as soon as possible, keep the schools open for the entire academic year, ensure no schools are occupied by armed actors, and facilitate additional alternative education opportunities to make sure no child is left behind.

Education is a win-win investment: Improving access to and quality of education is key for the development of children and countries.

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Image: Mon Mike

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