Sudan, despite its national and international obligations to education, is failing to provide literacy education for adults who have been failed by the school system.
Between 30-46% of the population is unable to read and write, according to the World Bank. This is in large part due to decades of civil wars since Sudan became independent in 1956.
Adult education needs more funding as it could offer opportunities to mature students who missed out on formal education due to being displaced by conflict or other reasons.
As well as giving basic literacy skills, adult education can provide opportunities to create awareness about important issues such as health, the environment, harmful traditions such as Female Genital Mutilation and sexually transmitted diseases.
In a strategy paper in 2008 the Sudanese government said it was working to provide education to all Sudanese. However, seven years on, little progress has been made to improve the quality of and access to adult education.
If people are literate there is a huge positive effect on the social and economic development of families, communities and the nation as a whole.
Despite the potential positive outcomes of adult literacy programmes, in many cases the government do not see the benefit of educating people who will remain in agriculture and other jobs where it is assumed that they do not need to read and write.
Even when these projects do take place there are huge difficulties in successful implementation:
- Lack of trained staff
- Low salaries
- Shortage of textbooks, papers and writing materials
- Incomplete syllabi
- Reduction in government expenditure
This is unfortunate because besides literacy, adult education has a number of social benefits including:
- Taking advanced career courses to improve chances for promotion and salary increases
- Becoming more marketable in their career field or a new career field they are entering
- Improving education levels to improve their lives and inspire their children to improve their education
- Taking courses of interest or completing programmes people have developed a deep-rooted passion about
However, adult education has some constraints:
Unless the subject is extremely practical and needed in the workforce they might not get a job despite completing a course
For many it can be a struggle to balance studying with work and family commitments
Adult education could have a real impact in Sudan, however there are still millions of illiterate adults in Sudan who have no access to services like education which would enable them to improve their lives.
by Eltoum Moneer
Sudan has signed and ratified the United Nations 1966 International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, which states in Article 13 that everyone has the right to education.
The Sudanese Literacy and Adult Education Act of 1982 and the 1991 both enshrine in law that all citizens have the right to a basic education.