August 27, 2014 (KHARTOUM) – The European Union (EU) mission in Sudan along with the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) launched two EU-funded projects aimed at strengthening access to primary education in Gedaref, Red Sea, Kassala, Blue Nile, South Kordofan and Darfur states.
According to an EU statement, the objectives of the two projects are to increase children’s access to and to improve the quality of primary education and to help Sudan make direct progress towards the millennium development goal targets for education.
The UNICEF Representative in Sudan Geert Cappelaere noted that in Sudan “there are over three million children out of school and 18 per cent of students are at risk of dropping out before they complete the eighth grade”.
“A poor rural girl’s chance of accessing quality education is 25 per cent lower than that of a well-off urban boy in Sudan. UNICEF, the ministry of education and other partners have been working together by engaging in the Out-of-School Children Initiative,” Cappelaere added.
He added that “the funds will be allocated to provide education services for marginalised children in Darfur states where insecurity and lack of access to education are big challenges. UNICEF and the Ministry of Education will ensure that the funds are used to expand coverage and reach the most vulnerable children including nomadic children, IDPs and conflict-affected children, girls and children with disabilities”.
The EU-funded six million euro Primary Education Program (PEP) in Darfur will be implemented by UNICEF in all states of Darfur (North, South, West, and East and Central Darfur). In particular, it aims to educate 100,000 children, train 1,500 teachers, build the capacity of 300 headmasters and train 100 education management personnel by 2017.
The EU-funded 12 million Euro Primary Education Retention program (PERP) will be implemented by both UNICEF and Save the Children Sweden to educate 500,000 children, train 10,000 teachers, build the capacity of 1,000 headmasters and train 200 education management personnel. By 2016 the project will be implemented in South Kordofan, Red Sea, Kassala, Gedaref and the Blue Nile States.
According to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Eastern Sudan has the country’s highest poverty rate; the highest number of deaths of children aged under five, and the most children between the ages of six and 13 out of school.
Sudan’s eastern Red Sea, Kassala and Gedaref states have potential gold, oil and gas resources, but poverty remains endemic among the region’s five million inhabitants, whose livelihoods have been undermined by war, climate change and environmental degradation.
The head of the EU mission in Sudan, Tomas Ulicny, reaffirmed the EU engagement to work for sustainable development and peace in Sudan and added that Sudan has an international commitment to complete the enactment of the Asmara and Doha peace agreements to fortify peace in both East Sudan and Darfur.
He stressed that the EU has fully satisfied its commitments pledged at Kuwait and Doha Donors Conferences to sustain the humanitarian assistance and development in both Darfur and East Sudan.
The EU diplomat also announced that European ambassadors in Sudan will conduct their next annual visit to Darfur to assess the developments in the region and visit humanitarian and development projects in the region.