Education is both a human value in itself and a strong leverage of human development. The government of Sudan has the goal of universal basic education. Implied in this objective is a fair distribution of educational opportunities among states and between sexes; and education efficiency and near-zero drop-out rates.


Nomads’ Education

 Of the 61 million out-of-school primary school age children around the world, including 32 million girls,  some 3.2 million live in Sudan .With half of Sudan’s 30 million citizens under the age of 18, and one in two living in poverty, investment in equitable access to quality education is critical for the country’s future. Following the secession of South Sudan in June 2011, the country faces economic challenges, loss of oil revenue, persistent poverty, conflict and recurring drought. Sudan still faces significant challenges to meet the MDG 2 goal of universal primary education by 2015. While great strides have been made in improving access to education over the past ten years in Sudan, today the national basic education enrolment is 73.2% (76.8% for boys and 69.4 % for girls).   Regional disparities are high when urban/rural differences and gender are considered. The worst off are pastoral children of which 79.6 percent are out of school.

About 20% of the total numbers of out of school children (OoSC) in Sudan are nomadic, yet nomads represent only 8.5% of the total population. Pastoralist girls are almost four times less likely to go to school than rural girls, and five times less likely than girls in urban areas, according to the 2008 census. Even though 25% of the Darfur population is pastoral and agro-pastoral, pastoral schools make up only 15% of all basic schools. The states with highest concentration of nomadic populations in Sudan are; North Darfur 71%, South Kordofan 60%, South Darfur and 59% .Out of the 760,037 school age population (6-14 years), only 167,720 or 22.1% have access to school, and only 8.1% are girls.  

Providing education services for IDPs and nomads in northern Sudan remains a significant challenge because they are perpetually on the move. Data on the size of these population groups is scarce, and there is great variation in available estimates. For example, according to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), there were 4.9 million IDPs in Sudan (including South Sudan), with 2.6 million located in the Darfur region alone. Among these vulnerable groups, the share of girls in basic education is smaller than that in regular schools. The share of girls in pastoral schools is 38 percent and in IDP schools, 44 percent compared with 47 percent in regular government schools. These figures suggest that girls are at a greater disadvantage within the vulnerable population groups, particularly nomads.


Barriers to quality basic education among nomadic communities

  1. School related barriers:

An insufficient school facility relevant to the needs of nomadic children is a major barrier.  The total number of pastoral schools in North Darfur is just 176, or 607 classrooms for 21,832 enrolled children at basic level. These pastoralist schools are made of local materials without proper seating or teaching equipment, while those in remote rural locations tend to be under trees, prone to danger and exposure to the elements. The absence of health and water facilities along the migratory route of these communities, and in the schools in the area, leads parents to withdraw their children to fetch water. Due to both their mobile nature and poor delivery of government services, pastoralists enjoy fewer government services than those in sedentary villages in these areas. 

Lack of appropriate teaching materials: Lack of school text books and notebooks is prevalent among pastoral schools; 33.5 percent of students lack Arabic language text books, 28.5 percent do not have Islamic studies books, 34.5 percent do not have mathematics books and 95 percent lack science books. This shortage places extra burden on parents to cover the cost of books, creating an additional disincentive for parents from the targeted communities.

Poor quality and number of teachers: The non-availability of qualified teachers for nomadic schools is a major hurdle for the Ministry of Education in all locations. It is estimated that the Teacher Pupil Ratio among nomadic schools is 1:48 as opposed to 1:34 in regular basic schools in Sudan. This is mainly due to chronic illiteracy among adults from these communities. The literacy rate among nomadic communities stands at a mere 16%. Teachers from other communities are unwilling to relocate and take up assignments in nomadic schools due to the absence of adequate incentives and the general hardships related to nomadic livelihoods. Most teachers currently providing services for nomadic schools are local volunteers, who lack adequate resources and skills to deliver the full curriculum. Most volunteer teachers have received one month training courses offered by the Ministry of Education for Nomadic teachers and have not had refresher courses or additional  learning opportunities.  The cost of transferring MoE teachers to these communities is high and often results in high turnover. Of the 4,312 teachers in 1,599 pastoral schools, 36 percent are not trained and lack higher secondary education, while another 35 percent of teachers lack pastoral education teacher guides.

Unsatisfactory education delivery mechanisms: Three models of education prevail among the pastoral communities:

  1.Khalwas religious schools offer free additional courses for approximately three years of schooling. These schools are closely tied to pastoral life because lessons take place in the evening; they are almost entirely funded by communities and are geared for both girls and boys. Schools are established on an informal basis, while teachers are untrained, part-time volunteers from the local community. Subject matter is narrow, quality is often poor and these schools are poorly integrated with formal schools.

2.  Mobile schools offer classes only up to fourth grade with curriculum that covers mathematics, history, Arabic and Islamic studies. Students are taught in mixed age groups due to the low number of pupils and the varying relationship between student age and educational level. Mobile schools face high turnover of teachers due to the tough living conditions and isolation of pastoral communities. The intensive, structured nature of study means that children who are absent for long periods – a common occurrence in pastoral life – often fall behind or drop out.

3. Boarding schools offer uninterrupted education for children from remote, pastoral communities and provide an opportunity to continue education after class four. Female boarding schools enable more girls to attend school. Boarding houses promote social contact and acculturation between sedentary populations and pastoralists. However these schools are expensive, and with very low government spending on education and reduced subsidies, they are unaffordable for poor families. (UNICEF Nomadic education evaluation report 2010)


  1. Community-related barriers

Parents’ inability to cover education-related expenses: The localities and states are mandated to mobilize funds for education service delivery, yet low revenue at state and local level has limited their ability to do so. As such, the cost of education, books, informal fees and teachers’ incentives are being pushed down to parents. Income levels are very low among pastoralists, especially now in the post-conflict scenario where animal assets and markets have failed to provide sufficient income.

Pastoral livelihood patterns and their impact on education: Due to the seasonal mobility of the target communities, access to conventional education services is very limited. Cattle-rearing by boys is an important input to family labor and hinders school attendance (even to flexible mobile schools) while girls are burdened with heavy domestic chores. The communities’ tribal governance system limits their representation and participation in formal local or state level governance structures. This, in turn, limits their ability to advocate and mobilize services. In pastoral communities, wealth and prosperity is measured by the number of cattle owned; therefore, cattle-rearing is preferred over formal education that is not seen to directly improve local livelihoods. High levels of adult illiteracy results in parents not sending their children to school, can impede Parents and Teachers Associations involvement and limits communities’ capacity to engage and dialogue with formal education institutions.

Harmful traditional attitudes and practices impeding girls’ ability to access education: Child marriage for girls aged 13-15 years is a deeply-rooted, common custom particularly among poorer communities and families. During periods of hardship, families marry off their daughters to earn dowry, gain status by obtaining cattle or to offset hardships of having numerous children. It is estimated that girls in the poorest 20 percent of families are more than three times as likely to be married before age 18 than girls in the richest 20 percent. Besides the severe health implications associated with early pregnancy, early marriage increases responsibilities, significantly reducing the amount of time and space to interact outside the small family circle and usually ends a girl’s schooling. Patriarchal community norms encourage resource allocation in favors of sons. Due to the widely held norm that boys and men are the breadwinners of the family and that sons carry the family identity, boys are endowed with resources, including education, decision-making and influence on family matters from an early age.


Education Objectives

Al Massar has the following objectives regarding education:

  • Assessment of social, economic, ecological and cultural situation of nomadic societies.
  • Improvement of the provision of educational services to nomads.
  • Innovative, sustainable and cost-efficient solutions for education delivery in areas with a low population density.
  • Participation of nomads in the establishment of schools.
  •  Strengthening of networks and collaborations of private and public, profit-making and charitable, as well as university and development institutions.
  • Provide education that is responsive and relevant to nomadic people.
  • Increase enrollment among nomadic children in elementary education (Classes 1-4), especially girls & reduce the elementary dropout rate among nomadic children.
  • Increase the opportunity for adult education among nomadic people.


Education achievements

  • Rehabilitation and construction of 592 schools
  • Rehabilitation and construction of more than 900 teachers'''' offices
  • Provision of 20 mobile school about2.166 nomadic child benefits  
  • Construction of more than 76 child club
  • Training for more than 3030 teacher in different topics
  • Distributed of school kits for more than 219006 pupils
  • Provision of school uniform for more than 6900 nomadic pupils
  • Construction of more than 13 Khalwas.
  • Seating for more than 1000 pupils (girls and boys ) in nomadic schools
  • Trained more than 1020 PTA’s at schools.
  • Provision of school meals for more than 24 schools
  • Establishment of illiteracy centers
  • Increase enrolment for 1200 out of school nomadic child and decrease drop out in nomadic community. 
  •  Distribution of text book for 1200 nomadic child 
  • Signed Memorandum of Understanding with Bayan & Africa colleges, Ahlia, Ahfad and Sudan Universities. Offered scholarships for university education to nomadic students.
  • Provided scholarships for postgraduate studies inside and outside Sudan.