Battles Continue in Darfur…for Education

A proud teacher with his class in Central Darfur

It is difficult enough to imagine everyday survival for most children in Darfur, let alone their attempt to achieve an education.  Amid the stories of escalating violence, spreading disease and food shortages throughout the region, it is rather bittersweet to see so many stories involving this seemingly lofty pursuit.

In an interview with parents in Golo, Central Darfur, Radio Dabanga found that there are currently less than 20 elementary schools (mostly made of straw) in the region and only four secondary schools, each with a ratio of about 1000 students per school.  The ratio of teachers to students in the region was even more discouraging, being one teacher to every 225 students in the elementary schools and one to 714 in the the high schools.  Just to put this into perspective, the average ratio of teachers to students in the U.S. is one to 16, according to the NEA.

22,000 kids in Kalma refugee camp still waiting for a school

In the meantime, Kalma refugee camp in South Darfur (near Nyala) is still awaiting the two schools it was promised two years ago by the head of the Darfur Regional Authority, Dr. Tijani Sese.  The camp is the current residence of about 22,000 primary school aged children who have been displaced from their homes.  According to Abdullah Mohamed Suleiman, head of the education program at camp Kalma, qualified teachers are prepped and ready to begin work at the so far non-existent schools.   

Tuition doubled, students protest

Students in Deleig, Central Darfur, on the other hand, currently have a school to attend, but were recently hit with heightened tuition fees.  Students began protesting the fees on the 23rd.  According to students, The administration of the Deleig high school raised the tuition to over twice the rate of all other schools in the state.  One student said that:

Although the security forces used tear gas and fired bullets into the air to disperse the protest, they would continue their demonstration and strike for three days until the authorities reduce the tuition fees similar to other state schools.  (src)

School administrator killed

Finally, the struggle for both survival and education became tragically intertwined when just two days ago, on July 27th, Mohamed Ahmed Saleh, head of the education council in Bielel town, South Darfur, was killed by armed gang members.  Two of his sons were also slain while attempting to defend him.  Saleh and his sons were murdered not because of his position on the council, but for their cell phones and immediately available cash according to the Sudan Tribune, not an uncommon occurrence in this region.  The assailants were arrested north of town and are awaiting trial.   Saleh and his sons were buried on Sunday with many Bielel citizens in attendance.

Alicia is a licensed Cytogeneticist and blogger for Living Ubuntu currently working in San Diego county.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: