Let’s follow the students who have completed the supplementary school

[Original by Ko IMANAKA, Sudan Project (September 21, 2021); Translated by K. Takemura/A. Taguchi]

JVC has been implementing 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 the children to receive remedial lessons and improve their academic skills, but also for them to transfer or return to regular morning classes and continue receiving an education.

Approximately 500 children initially participated in the supplementary school supported by JVC in 2020. Eventually, 387 have taken the final exam, partly due to a six-month school closure caused by COVID-19 and partly due to a series of evacuations and exodus due to attacks on settlements by armed conflict. Excluding those students who moved out of Kaduqli or returned to rebel areas, 355 students then enrolled in regular classes. Are the students continuing their studies now?

The current Marghani, from the older brother to the younger siblings

Marghani was introduced in a JVC flyer and a feature article in the Mainichi Newspaper. Though he could not even write his own name in Arabic, he scored first overall in his final exam at the supplementary school and was transferred to the fourth grade of the regular class.

Marghani’s progress

He attended all of the regular class monitoring sessions held regularly, and his teachers thought he was smart and hardworking. In the end-of-year examinations, Marghani ranked first out of 54 students, a remarkable achievement.

Marghani shows his answer sheet for the science test at the end of the regular school year.

In December 2020, Marghani’s younger brother, Fatih, and younger sister, Assha, arrived in Kaduqli from rebel-controlled areas. Fatih has never studied before and Assha has only studied up to the second grade. Marghani says he teaches his younger siblings while studying at home.

This September, Marghani will enter the 5th grade, and Fatih and Assha will transfer to the 2nd grade. The study baton is now being passed on from the older brother to the younger siblings.

At Marghani’s house near the school. On the left is Assha, the younger sister, and in the middle is Fatih, the younger brother.

Assha taking a class

A camel made of mud by Fatih during arts and crafts class

Sisters without uniforms

In Sudan, uniforms are generally worn even in public elementary schools. The lack of uniforms can then be a barrier to attending school. Since inflation is rising, purchasing uniforms can be a very heavy burden on the family budget. But instead of “giving students uniforms because they don’t have them,” JVC negotiated with the county education bureaus and principals to expand the window of opportunity by accepting students in regular classes even if they do not 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 without uniforms.” After the JVC staff discussed the situation with their father, he promised to buy uniforms for his children and send them to school; later monitoring confirmed that the sisters were already studying in a regular class.

Green uniforms are common in public elementary schools. Photo: Jun Hori (Garden Journalism)

Of the 355 students who entered regular classes, 344, or 97%, continued to attend school in March, and 293, or 83%, continued to attend school just before the end-of-year examinations in April. (The reason for the decrease was due to the armed clashes that occurred near the Shair area.)

We are happy to report that many children are continuing their studies in regular schools. While it may still take some time to completely remove barriers to school attendance, children are getting into the habit of going to school, interest in education is growing among parents, and results are steadily being achieved toward expanding educational opportunities. In the next report, we will let you know how parents’ attitudes have changed.

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