December 15 1996


  1. Chronology
  2. War takes its toll on education
  3. Sudanese women meet in Nairobi


November 15: Troops from Ethiopia and Uganda are poised to invade Sudan across its southern and eastern borders with aid from the United States, a pro- government newspaper reported in Khartoum on Thursday. The Alwan newspaper said the troops were awaiting delivery of supplies, and that the rebel Sudan People's Liberation Army had already begun receiving non-lethal military aid from the United States as reported in The Washington Post on Sunday.

November 18: A surprise meeting in Rome last weekend between President Yoweri Museveni of Uganda and President Hassan el-Bashir of Sudan, their first in nearly two years, could have been prompted by a US decision to send military aid to three of Sudan's antagonists, including Uganda. There was no indication which side asked for the face-to-face talks, which The EastAfrican learned were organised by the Catholic Church. But sources said the meeting lasted six hours, indicating serious and substantive discussion.

November 21: A south Sudanese rebel faction has agreed to free three International Red Cross staff it has been holding hostage since November 1, the Red Cross said today. Commander Kerubino Kwanyin Bol, leader of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) Bahr-Al-Ghazal splinter faction, has agreed to release the ICRC hostages without conditions, an ICRC statement said.

November 22: Sudan will collect $20 million from the public to help the army against what it says are attempts by the United States to overthrow the government, a Sudanese newspaper said today. The government-owned paper al- Ingaz al-Watani said the sole party's secretariat for co-ordination and mobilisation approved the collection in reaction to reports that the US would send nearly $20 million in surplus military equipment to Ethiopia, Uganda and Eritrea. November 25: The United States is denying entry to Sudanese government and military officials in an attempt to put pressure on Sudan for failing to surrender three Egyptians wanted for the June 1995 assassination attempt against Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. The order was signed on Friday by US President Bill Clinton before he left Australia for an Asia- Pacific Economic Co-operation forum in the Philippines.

November 29: A UN panel adopted a resolution calling on the Sudan to stop torture, slavery, arbitrary arrests, religious persecution and summary executions and a host of other human rights violations. The vote in the General Assembly's social humanitarian and cultural committee on Wednesday was 93 in favour, 16 against and 45 abstentions. A decision by the panel, which includes all UN members, means a similar outcome when the full assembly votes. November 30: Uganda said today it supports Sudan People's Liberation Army in principle but not military. Foreign Minister Eriya Kategaya made the statement while testifying before a parliamentary committee on the war in northern Uganda. Mr Kategaya said Uganda is strongly opposed to the policies of the National Islamic Front (NIF) regime in Khartoum.

December 4: Sudan's leading novelist Al Tayeb Salih faces a parliamentary ban on his best-known work on grounds of pornography and obscenity, after a student branded it as worse than The Satanic Verses. The tabloid daily al-Dar reported yesterday that Abu Zaid Ahmed, a student in the faculty of agriculture at Sennar University, had complained to the culture committee of the national assembly over The Season of Immigration to the North.

December 4: Three Sudanese rebels undergoing training in Eritrea have defected to the Khartoum government and said scores of others are dying in camps, press reports said in Khartoum. Local newspapers, including the official Al-Engaz al- Watani, said that the three defectors had reported mutinies among the rebel ranks and said that more than 120 men died from training hardships and diseases.

December 10: Forty-two people drowned when a ferry capsized on Saturday in the Nile river north of Khartoum.

December 10: An Australian, Canadian and Kenyan workers for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) were to fly to Geneva today after five weeks in captivity in southern Sudan, ICRC officials said.

December 11: US congressman Bill Richardson, clinched his hostage-freeing deal. He took Australian nurse Maree Worthington, American pilot John Early and Kenyan pilot Mohsin Raza out of Sudanese bush to Geneva on board a US military plane on Monday night. Though he denied having paid a ransom, in fact he delivered to the rebel group "humanitarian aid" worth at least half a million dollars.

December 11: Poor rains have caused food shortages in Northern Darfur state in western Sudan, a government-owned newspaper reported today.

December 14: The forme Prime Minister and now opposition leader Sadek al-Mahdi, who last week fled to Eritrea to escape harrassment in Khartoum, said yesterday that he had met in Asmara, where he is guest of the Eritrean Government, with the SPLA leader Dr. John Garang, to coordinate strategies. Al-Mahdi said tha Islamic government in Khartoum is "besieged from all sides, and is on the verge of collapse." He added that an uprising will come soon.


The civil war that has been raging on in Sudan since 1983 has inflicted devastating consequences on the southern part of the country. Thousands of people have been killed and others wounded, while opportunities for developing and sustaining adequate educational facilities have been reduced drastically. Consequently, most southern Sudanese have fled from one area to another in search of some reprieve. According to a recent publication by Radda Barnen entitled: Dare to Hope: Children of war in Southern Sudan, amongst these displaced people, a huge number is made up of youngsters who have been wandering since the mid 80s, escaping insecurity and desperation, but mostly in search of formal education, now only available regularly in the refugee camps. In areas as far as northern Bahr-el-Ghazal, children have been exposed to atrocities in violent attacks especially by the Sudanese army. They have felt hunger, drought, thirst, exhaustion and disease. The on-going civil war has seriously disrupted the provision of education services. When it began, most schools in rural areas of the south ceased to function. In 1989, the Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA) based in Nairobi, Kenya's capital, initiated the re-establishment of self-help community schools in the areas under the control of rebel group Sudanese People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

Access to primary education remains low throughout the Sudan. The national average for children completing four years of basic education in the country is put at 44 per cent. Enrolment rates for the whole of the Sudan are 58 per cent for boys and 43 per cent for girls, according to UNICEF sources. Of the estimated 1 million primary school-age children, only 30 per cent receive basic education. For every five boys, there is only one girl in school, says UNICEF. The community schools continue to operate under very difficult circumstances. UNICEF and several Non-governmental Organisations (NGOs) have been trying to support the schools despite serious shortages especially of text books.

Between 1989 and 1992, UNICEF spent about $110 000 on school materials, hardly covering 50 per cent of the schools. Between January and October 1993, 730 kits consisting of such necessities as pens, pencils, chalk, blackboard, paint and exercise books were distributed. One kit contains enough material for 200 children for a school year. In 1994, thanks to a generous contribution from the Japanese government, the educational programme managed to expand enough to supply basic education materials to all functioning schools in southern Sudan.

In addition, a major effort was undertaken by UNICEF and other NGOs to improve the quality of education through teacher training courses. For the first time since the development of the Southern Sudan education data base, over 700 primary schools have recorded a major increase in the enrolment of children and the opening of new schools. Unfortunately, in other areas, schools were closed temporarily due to fighting. In Ayod Waat, in the upper Nile region and Akon in Bahr-el-Ghazal region. The total number of children in schools was estimated at 300, 000 and the number of schools at 1,287 as at October 1996. In 700 schools, there were 3,652 teachers, 2,467 males and 1,185 females. The preparations for the teacher training programme started in September 1993 with the workshop on Curriculum and Syllabus held in Kenyan town of Lokichogio. A committee has been set up to draft a curriculum development programme to help those children who are already studying, using either the Kenyan or Ugandan syllabi. A teacher education programme developed in 1994 trains primary school teachers using modules of an advanced standard over five weeks. Completion of these courses qualifies them to train others on similar courses. Last year, 1, 200 Sudanese primary school teachers received training in various subjects. A sensitisation paper on girls' education has been introduced. But more than 50 per cent of primary school age population is out of school due of lack of schools, trained teachers, school materials and insecurity. Food scarcity and the absence of accommodation for teachers are other bottlenecks. The war also has caused a lot of destruction in technological fields. Traditional technology has been disrupted. General displacement and loss of the traditional artisans, tools and crafts have resulted in over-dependence on personnel and material from outside.

But education continues in southern Sudan despite the woes. The community has been participating and are involved in decision making through Parents Teachers Associations (PTAs). They contribute effectively to the self- help programmes where they are mobilised to carry out work that benefit them in the fields of health, education and agriculture. UNICEF and other NGOs have been organising gender workshops to educate the people on gender sensitivity in order to change attitudes. Some community leaders now realise the importance of educating girls. But parents are generally apprehensive about their daughters walking long distances to and from schools as they could be raped by their male colleagues or the soldiers.

by Santino Makur Kot


The Sudanese Women Association in Nairobi (SWAN) held a colourful cultural event at Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) in Nairobi, Kenya, on November 30 in which over 50 women participated. Dr. Pauline Riak, the chairperson of SWAN, told the gathering at KICC: "When social disintegration occurs in the society, women are expected to build relationships and the social fabric of human living through care and nurturing. The physical and psychological costs are high as women try to build stable lives amidst the massive internal and external population movements that are occurring." Another problem common to SWAN members is violence against women. "Domestic violence not only causes women and children physical and psychological suffering, but is also a major obstacle to individual growth and women's participation in development," Dr. Riak said. SWAN is unique in that it was conceived, developed and managed by urban refugees without initial prompting or input from other individuals. Further, its members are heterogeneous and are active participants in various warring factions inside Sudan. Dr. Riak recognises that Sudan is still at war. "Our questions have to do with dignified survival and the struggle for a just peace and national development," she explained. The theme of the November 30 event was "SWAN IS A SYMBOL OF UNITY AND LOVE'. Participants came from Nairobi, Kisumu (about 350 kilometres west of Nairobi) and seven other African countries including Ethiopia, Uganda, Tanzania, Zimbabwe and Sudan. Traditional dances were presented, locally made clothes, baskets and other items were on exhibition and traditional foods were served. SWAN has organised previous workshops on various topics such as stress control, HIV/AIDS and self reliance, how to make homes, and participation in nation building. "Given the conflicts raging among us in the south, the cultural activities are quite impressive," one member remarked.

For further information, please contact:
Fr. Kizito, SCIO, tel +254.2.562247 - fax +254.2.566668 - e-mail:


PeaceLink 1997