The Outer

Sudan.. The resumption of studies confuses those fleeing the fighting

A few weeks after fighting broke out in the Sudanese capital between the Rapid Support Army; In mid-April; Fatima, a student at the University of Khartoum, was forced to flee with her family outside the country, like millions of Sudanese. But the decision to resume studies in universities and schools caused great confusion for Fatima’s family and placed them facing two bitter choices: either return and face the risk of death in light of the current security conditions, or sacrifice their academic future.

The decision issued by the designated Sudanese Council of Ministers sparked widespread controversy and popular rejection. Academic professional bodies identified 7 obstacles that they said hinder the opening of universities and schools in light of the current war, which has led to the displacement of millions of Sudanese and caused massive destruction in educational institutions.
The decision comes despite the severe unrest taking place in the states of Khartoum and Darfur, which are considered the center of population gravity in the country. More than 40 percent of the country’s total population of about 42 million people live there. More than 70 percent of the population of the two states were forced to flee to the interior regions and neighboring countries due to the intensification of battles.

Tens of thousands of university and school teachers were stranded, and some of them migrated permanently to other countries after the outbreak of war. Thousands of workers in the education sector have not been able to receive their wages since last April until now.
Fatima tells Sky News Arabia that although the students and their families are keen to return to school; However, this seems strange in light of the current security situation.
She explains: “I cannot return without my family at the present time. I have no place to stay in Khartoum after the destruction of our house, and my sick mother cannot return in light of the lack of health care in the country.” Fatima points out that insisting on resuming studies will constitute a major security and economic burden on the students and their families.

The coalition of groups of Sudanese university professors summarized the following: Obstacles to converting most shelters and student housing into shelter centers for those fleeing the war, with the lack of alternatives; Displacement of students and their families, road cuts and insecurity; And the destruction of most of the data; Workers’ salaries have not been paid since the beginning of the war, except for the April salary. The group considered that the decision would lead to discrimination between higher education institutions according to the state affected by the war.
He also pointed out that some universities are planning to continue studying electronically in light of the dire situation of the communication networks available even before the war, in addition to the continuous power outages for long hours. Health conditions deteriorated due to the spread of dengue fever, cholera, and malaria in the states.

Moreover,the Association of Presidents of Sudanese Public University Councils announced its rejection of the decision. He explained in a statement that “the real and practical solution to continue the path of education is an immediate and complete cessation of the war.”
He pointed out that most of the regions’ schools and universities have become refuges for millions of displaced people fleeing the war.
The statement added, “The decision to resume studies ignored the difficult circumstances experienced by universities and schools, their professors, employees, and workers who have remained without salaries since the beginning of the war, and the difficult circumstances experienced by Sudanese families who will bear the exorbitant fees imposed by the university administration without the approval or consultation of their councils.”

He stressed that university councils, administrations, and professors’ unions are the only bodies authorized and qualified to make such decisions.
In the same context, the Teachers Syndicate saw that the opening of educational institutions must take place according to a vision based on basic principles, including that education be comprehensive for all pupils and students so that the justice of education is not challenged, and so on, and that it does not become a gateway to dividing the country. The resumption of school must be preceded by the cessation of war, and the provision of means of assistance in the educational process, such as a chair and a book.

Tragic situations
While universities and schools in Khartoum and Darfur were completely out of service; Educational institutions in other areas of the country suffer from a significant lack of funding due to the repercussions resulting from the war. Most schools have also turned into temporary shelters for those displaced due to the war, especially in the states of Gezira and River Nile, which border Khartoum.
There are great fears that a large number of universities will not be able to resume studies in the near term. Even if the current war stops; Amidst reports of the loss of academic records, the library and laboratories of a number of universities, which were subjected to widespread burning and vandalism.
About one million students study in 155 universities and specialized colleges. 60 percent of them are concentrated in the three cities of the capital – Khartoum, Omdurman, and Khartoum Bahri – where large-scale clashes are taking place that have disrupted all aspects of life.
Although some universities confirm the integrity of their students’ documents and records, more than 70 percent of the governmental and private universities, institutes and higher specialized colleges in Khartoum were subjected to vandalism during the war.
While most of the students remained inside the country, some of them took up marginal work to help their families in light of the difficult economic conditions resulting from the war. Others preferred to sacrifice the years they spent at their universities and migrate to other countries such as Egypt, Uganda, and Kenya to begin their university studies at the first level, even though some of them were at advanced levels. In light of the difficulty of transfer, as the country’s large universities lost their advanced academic classification due to the great destruction that befell higher education institutions during the past three decades.

Thousands of students also face a major problem in obtaining any documents proving their registration in the universities in which they were studying.
Specialists believe that repairing the extensive damage to universities will take many years after the end of the war. Especially since most universities were suffering from scarcity of resources and poor funding, making it difficult to compensate for the damage to libraries, laboratories, and basic facilities, which require high costs. Universities are also expected to face a major crisis in bringing back faculty and other support staff, most of whom have had to emigrate and work in universities and research institutions abroad.

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