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This paper will discuss the major developments of education in Sudan. The first part of this paper will tackle how the nation improves access to education as well as in terms of quality. It details important elements of educational development such as educational innovation, teachers, textbooks and the curricula. Difficulties faced by Sudan in educational development will also be discussed including its potential solutions.
2.0 Major Developments in Education (1990-2000)
2.1 Access to Education
During the last ten years, Sudan has received genuine efforts intended for educational development. A revolutionary council who requests for National Conference so that educational policies will be developed initiated the first action. Sudan government is committed to improve the access to education through implementing relevant policies and regulations. These policies clearly stated the objectives of education. In 1992, the government have formulated and adopted educational strategy to achieve specific aims and goals (International Bureau of Education, 2001).
Sustained political assistance for the educational sectors has allowed creating institutional and human capability in different educational fields. The government created a database in 1995 and created the national network in 2000 to assist flow of information from the government to various local governments and vice versa to assist policy formulation and decision-making. These efforts have a positive impact on the performance and enhancement of educational publications and research. Consequently, some documents and research findings have been published, which helped increasing public awareness regarding the significance of educations towards enhancement and development of community's well being (International Bureau of Education, 2001).
The pre-school educational is acquiring special attention that started during the early nineties. The society recognizes it as components of formal education since it contributes to the children's socialization and preparation for school life. Preschool also reduces disparities associated with social background. It allows children to enjoy successful life. Sudan designed pre-school curriculum that allows children to obtain good values and develop positive behavior through play. Table 1 below shows the development of preschool education from 1989 - 2000 (International Bureau of Education, 2001).
The 2000 Education Act intended for development of General Education has claimed that basic education is a right of children that reached their school age, regardless of discriminating factors such as geographical areas, religion, gender and race. Sudan considered general education as the foundation for any developmental attempted for the wellbeing of people. Table number 2 shows the educational development in terms of basic education .
Table 2: Development of Basic Education
Secondary education serves as a valuable stage in the education of students because it prepares them for life's challenges and further studies such as college. This form of education allows student to choose from broader options so that they could discover their capabilities and interests and to determine the proper way of achieving their expectations. The main purpose of educational policies for secondary education is to achieve better quality education. These policies are being interpreted into actions such as the following (International Bureau of Education, 2001):
The Council of Ministers and the Supreme Council have enacted national conference's recommendations on educational regulations regarding diversifications of secondary educations inside the same institution. The timetable consists of academic, religious and technical studies. These initiatives result to united secondary school certificate.
The government created the strategy and direct objectives of secondary education based on the conference recommendations
The Ministry of Education engages in implementing regulations related to expansion and development of secondary education as well as increasing the percentage of technical education to 60 percent. The Ministry achieved this by means of consecutive expert meetings and specialized studies. The result of this initiative is the emergence of new secondary school
The new curriculum for the secondary school gives students wide spectrum of different subject areas with various options to enable a student to continue his or her students or to become involved in the outside world (International Bureau of Education, 2001)
2.2 The Quality and Importance of Education
The quality of education involves the textbooks, teachers and curricula that serve as the major components of the school environment. These components determine the importance of education to the needs of the society and the students.
The School Textbook:
The availability of school textbooks serves as a valuable element of educational process, specifically if the teachers lack qualifications, trainings or enthusiasm to teach. Educational policy in the Sudan considers access to basic education as their top priority. Its implementation requires access to basic learning materials including textbooks. Due to immediate huge expansion and structural modification in administration and curricula, the textbook-pupil ratio is below minimum. Furthermore, the distribution system was altered from centralized to decentralized form that is based on the resources of localities and states for giving, distributing and storing textbooks. Since it serves as a significant issue, the Council of Ministers released a decree no. 117 for the year 2000 that called for facilitating the textbook availability and provision. The said decree also declared that textbooks must be free of charges and students must provide nominal fees that could be refunded thereafter (International Bureau of Education, 2001).
The teacher serve as one of the general components of education since the efficiency and quality of education would be based on the experiences, qualifications and enthusiasm of teachers to teach. The existing educational regulations of Sudan facilitate the teachers specifically in terms of their qualifications and stability of their career. Because of the huge expansion in education, the number of basic school teachers increased to 117151 in 2000 with a yearly increase of 8.6 percent. The student-teacher ratio decline from 39.:1 to 27:1 that indicated an favorable change in quality. Based on the newly enacted educational policies, higher education institutions will be responsible in preparing Basic School teachers. The Ministry's role will be limited provision of short training courses that will teach instructor regarding the innovation in curriculum, teaching techniques and educational administration. Ministry of Education, together with the Ministry of Manpower also handles the training delegations of instructors (International Bureau of Education, 2001).
To improve the situation of instructors, the President declared the slow increase of instructors' counterparts by the year 2002. The government and educational institutions have implemented positive steps in this regard. On the other hand, the localities incapability to fulfill their responsibility towards teachers' compensation and the failure to impose their decision regarding raising status of school has affected education and instructors' stability. Consequently, there was a disparity in terms quality of education. Nevertheless, there is an increase in the number of secondary school teachers from 6766 in 1990 to 21114 in 2000 that represents annual rate of 12.1 percent. The student teacher ratio increased from 37.1 to 19.7 percent but this does not serve as the real indicator since detailed date of instructors' specialization is unavailable. The new curricula for secondary education also consist of retaining and requalification of instructors (International Bureau of Education, 2001).
The completion of infrastructure required by National Centre For Curricula and Education Research has been completed. The completion is based on the decision released in 1996 that is related to the existence of the centre. The three cycles of redesigning Basic School Curricula in three cycles is completed based on the vision of Sudanese nation. They based the curricula on the principle of integrating knowledge and considering the interrelationship of culture and work. In 1999, the curricula include all aspects of the culture as well as other aspects that can allow students to cope up with the rapid change and development in the fields of sociology, economics, science and technology. The new curriculum also provides student various alternatives to allow them to continue their higher education or to use that knowledge in order to become successful in practical life (International Bureau of Education, 2001).
The contents of the new curriculum are adaptable to the evolving situations and innovation. Its main objective is to provide student with the basic knowledge and help them acquire the basic learning processes and reinforcing their skills that has obtained during the eight years they spent in Basic School. The curriculum provides information about general culture that could facilitate students to make correct decisions regarding the courses that they may choose or professional or technical training that they could received according to their capabilities, abilities and interests (International Bureau of Education, 2001).
Sudan government considers all the innovations and trends that have occurred recent as well as those that will materialize in the future. The curriculum consists of first time sciences of logic and computer as well as environment and social students, principles of engineering science and French Language-serves as Sudan's most important medium of communication. Population education is also included so that students could understand the laws of the universe and human social living that influence individuals, families and society (International Bureau of Education, 2001).
3.0 Lessons Learned During the Development of Sudanese Education
The reforms made in the education sector have influenced all facets of the education development process. The government has improved education access through various channels as well as attaining equity and encourages efficiency and quality. Implementation of education strategy has emphasized the following:
Education is a society issue wherein the entire community should work as a team in order to achieve its objectives
Implementation of the federal system of governance gives an opportunity for broader participation that improves access and capacity building at the local level.
All human being has the right to obtain proper education and the international society should collaborate to ensure that education is given to all (International Bureau of Education, 2001).
People involved in the implementation of educational development have experienced difficulties that can be presented in summarized form:
Some localities' failure to satisfy its commitment toward education due to poor financial and human capabilities
Natural disasters such as floods and droughts have adversely affect contribution of the community in terms of providing education. These disasters have also reduced the government's resources with an unfavorable impact on educational funding.
Even though educational regulations are aligned with international trends, foreign aid and the contributions of international organizations that are working in the educational sector are in continuous decline (International Bureau of Education, 2001).
The Ministry of Education has experienced these difficulties and attempted to overcome challenges through the following actions:
To boost the approbation of the federal government to overcome any deficit in educational budget of the localities by means of allocation of educational support fund
To provide limited foreign aid to the most needy areas
To create efficient administrative structure to satisfy the demands of the federal system of governance
To reinforce the educational information and communication system to assist the implementation of education-related regulations (International Bureau of Education, 2001)
4.0 Challenges that Sudan Will Face in Educational Development
Sudan's education structure is currently facing series of problems. One of them is the migration of skilled youth from rural to urban areas as well as abroad, not to mentioned unemployment rate of 15.5 percent. While these problems are not directly connected to education structure, they can present problems since scarcity of labor force signifies scarcity of qualified work force to impose educational change. Poor infrastructure due to natural disasters and civil war has prevented developmental efforts. The decreasing foreign funding integrated with imposed economic embargo has worsened the situation (International Bureau of Education, 2001).
General concerns have led to poor performance of the education system. The poor infrastructure also led to unbalanced growth in terms of efficiency, quality disparities and access in education. Inefficiency and deterioration of quality of education can be associated with inadequacy of textbooks and unequal distribution of books because of poor purchasing power of some local governments. Furthermore, coordination between the centers and the state is not stable enough to acquire its aims of monitoring and follow up. The causes of fund insufficiency and lack of coordination activities is not clearly discussed. Insufficient funding served as a barrier towards achieving effective flow of information from the national government to local agencies and vice versa. These problems also negatively influenced decision-making and development of evaluation of activities and plans. Decreasing foreign aid also affected the access, equity, efficiency and quality in terms of education (International Bureau of Education, 2001).
Suggested solutions in solving these problems include:
Hasten process of distributing the database network so that it could cover the entire nation
To increase the percentage of the educational budget using the government budget to satisfy the needs of education, specifically in terms of training, improvement of school atmosphere and textbooks as well as development of educational services that will reach isolated areas.
Improved communications structures and interrelationships between the agencies and state government at all levels
To encourage better external relations in the education field to entice more funds and technical assistance
Emphasize specialized training and provide continuous training for the teachers so that the institutions could have trained personnel to implement innovations in the curricula