Poverty Prevails When it Comes to Children Dropping Out of School
Yagob Mohammed Abdallah, 13 year old, works as Nylon bags vendor in Bahri market, scouring the place back and forth and has an eye out for whoever shows up at the Vegetables market to sell his merchandise, and assist them –in return for pay- in carrying their groceries to the public bus station or private car. I met him while carrying groceries, so I asked him about his name, where he came from, and why he does not go to school, especially now that the summer vacation is over; I noticed a look of wonder and suspicion on his face, so I put a reassuring smile on my face and said: "I'm just asking because my nephews and nieces are the same age as you are and they are at school now" He looked relieved to hear that and told me his name and said: "My father passed away when I was five and I –as well as my older brothers- work at the market and live with our mother." He said they left school because life has driven them in that direction since they do not have anyone to sustain them, and at that point I reached the bus stop and couldn't continue my chat with him.
Education for all
Sudan –as well as other countries around the world- suffers from education problems and from the phenomenon of children dropping out of school. Many international organizations –UNICEF being the most prominent of which- have called for providing obligatory free education to minimize dropout rates which are in general related to poverty and economic factors.
Ministry of General Education reports indicate that girls to boys dropout ratio is 2%, and added: "The most affected age group is what the ministry of education calls (the juvenile group), a group whose age limit is (9-14 years old). Several attempts were made to reinstate these young boys and girls in the educational system through literacy programs, specialized teachers, and specialized curricula, but it did not work out for a multitude of reasons that caused these programs to fail, and now the numbers of juveniles outside the school system continue to increasing continuously.
Teacher Neimat Ibrahim, who worked in Eastern Sudan for over ten years, says that the people of those areas think that a specific degree of education is enough, and that is the degree after which children can distinguish things, have a common sense, and can read and write. She said that they have warned against children dropping out of school and we have been given excuses that are hard to accept. In the first days after the market kicks off, the number of students in class is so small they can be counted on the fingers of one hand. Most if the students tell us that they are going to be absent tomorrow because they have to go to the market. They consider the degree of education they have obtained so far is enough and therefore they leave school unbothered and go to help their families with their family needs.
70% Dropout Rate in Primary Schools
The 2010 report of the National Population Council on the application of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) informed that the percentage of people under the poverty line in North Sudan is 46.5%. The report adopted the income-consumption approach to carry out the poverty statistics. Despite the fact that the report mentioned that the highest dropout rate is for the most part in secondary schools, but primary education is not doing any better. The report mentioned that dropping out of primary schools takes place with a percentage of 70% for students in fifth grade and below, and 62% for students in eighth grade.
Convention on the Rights of the Child
The agreement stresses that member countries must recognize children's right to free primary education and the necessity of taking steps to lessen dropout rates. The agreement also stresses that education must revolve around developing the personalities and talents of children.
As for the Sudanese 2010 Child Law, it maintained the right of children to receive education on the primary and secondary levels and the obligation of the government to provide free obligatory primary education. According to the law, the government is also obliged to provide free secondary education for the orphan, disabled, and poor children as well as for children of unknown parents.
In a phone call with the educational expert Alshafa Abdulgadir, she said there are three reasons for dropping out of school: The economic conditions of families; some families depend on their children for earning a living, another reason is that some families have a tribal and social perspective on girl education and regard it as if it's a time wasting process while preferring to have their male children to obtain education, the third reason is linked to factors such as security, displacement, draught, desertification, and transport which is sometimes hindered due to climatic conditions, while some think that poverty and economic conditions are the most important reasons of dropping out of school by children.
By Haffiya Elyas, 25/07/2012