[Original by Ko IMANAKA, Sudan Project (September 21, 2021); Translated by K. Takemura/A. Taguchi]
JVC has set up a supplementary school for children who have lost the opportunity to receive an education since 2020. The purpose of the school is not only for children to receive remedial lessons and improve their academic skills, but also so that they can transfer or return to regular morning classes and continue to receive an education.
About 500 children initially participated in the JVC-supported supplementary school in 2020. Eventually, 387 took the final exam, partly due to a six-month school closure caused by COVID-19 and partly due to due to a series of evacuations and exoduses due to attacks on the colonies by armed conflicts. Excluding students who left Kaduqli or returned to rebel areas, 355 students enrolled in regular classes. Are students continuing their studies now?
The current Marghani, from elder brother to younger siblings
Marghani was featured in a JVC flyer and a feature article in the Mainichi newspaper. Although he couldn’t even write his own name in Arabic, he got first place in his final exam at the complementary school and was transferred to the fourth year of the regular class.
He attended all the regular class monitoring sessions held regularly, and his teachers thought he was smart and hardworking. In the end-of-year exams, Marghani placed first out of 54 students, a remarkable achievement.
In December 2020, Marghani’s younger brother, Fatih, and younger sister, Assha, arrived in Kaduqli from rebel-held areas. Fatih has never studied before and Assha only studied until the second year. Marghani says he teaches his younger siblings while studying at home.
In September, Marghani will enter 5th grade, and Fatih and Assha will move on to 2nd grade. The baton of study has now passed from the older brother to the younger brothers and sisters.
Sisters without uniforms
In Sudan, uniforms are usually worn even in public elementary schools. The lack of uniforms can then constitute an obstacle to school attendance. With inflation on the rise, the purchase of uniforms can represent a very heavy burden on the family budget. But instead of “giving students uniforms because they don’t have them,” JVC negotiated with education offices and county superintendents to expand the window of opportunity by accepting students into regular classes. even if they don’t wear uniforms.
However, while monitoring the regular classes, we found that sisters Raiyan and Bayan, who completed the supplementary school program in 2020, were absent. When we visited them at home, they told us why: “We don’t want to go to school because we are the only ones who don’t have a uniform. After JVC staff discussed the situation with their father, he promised to buy uniforms for his children and send them to school; a later follow-up confirmed that the sisters were already studying in a regular class.
Of the 355 students who entered the regular class, 344, or 97%, continued to attend school in March and 293, or 83%, continued to attend school just before the end-of-year exams in April. (The reason for the decrease was due to armed clashes that occurred near the Shair region.)
We are happy to report that many children continue their studies in mainstream schools. Although it still takes some time to completely remove barriers to school attendance, children are getting into the habit of going to school, interest in education is increasing among parents and results are being consistently achieved to expand educational opportunities. In the next report, we will tell you how parents’ attitudes have changed.