Tracing Decline Of Quality Education And Standards In Sudan and South Sudan

"So, unless something drastic is done soon that will shore up the quality and standards of the universities, many countries may soon not recognize the degrees of the South Sudanese degrees."

By Prof Peter Tingwa*

This is a follow up to the interesting article and topic written by Mr. Deng Choldit “The Dark Legacy of Tyranny: How Bashir Destroyed Education” in your issue of 18 November 2019 and this following article is to add dimension and elaboration to the points of he has raised.

It is true that tyrannical dictatorship will inevitably destroy all the things Mr. Choldit has listed in his first paragraph. On the other hand, it must be remembered that benevolent dictatorships have been known to propel progress and thereby development in countries like Singapore under Lee Kwan Yu.

In the Sudan however, indeed, Bashir and his regime in their quest to establish an Islamic theocracy did many things that impacted negatively on everything, including education at all levels. The legacy of many of his bad policies and actions are still evident today in both the Sudan and South Sudan.

But it must be remembered that, while Bashir and his regime were responsible by finally delivering the coup de grace to the quality and standards of education, the many preceding regimes of the Sudan have their fair share in contributing to the decline in the quality and standards of education in the Sudan. In view of this the article below is an attempt to trace and point out the salient features of the decline in the quality and standards of education under the various regimes of the Sudan since the condominium days.

The Condominium Era
Modern education in the Sudan was started by the British-dominated Condominium Government. It was begun soon after the defeat of the Mahdists. It differed greatly from the education that the British were offering to their other colonies in Africa. That was because the Sudan was a condominium, that is, it was a joint rule between Britain and Egypt. As a consequence, the Sudan’s were conducted by the Foreign Office and not by the Colonial Office. So, it is wrong to say colonial rule in the Sudan as many say today because the Sudan was not a colony.

Be that it may, the structure of the education system which that Condominium Government established was as follows: four years each of elementary, intermediate and secondary education. The secondary years were to be followed by post-secondary education in colleges and/or universities.

In the North, the medium of instruction was Arabic in the elementary and intermediate levels but intense English was introduced in the intermediate level in order to prepare the pupils for English instructions at the secondary level. The secondary level was entirely taught in English.

In the South, after much policy debate as to which language to use, a system was reached whereby the elementary level was to be in the local languages with the introduction of English; while both the intermediate and secondary levels were to be in English. That was the general education.

At the end of those years, both in the North and South, the students took the O-Level Cambridge School Certificate Examinations. Those examinations were set and marked in Britain and were of the same standard as those taken by the British students; and those who passed those examinations well were admitted to the Gordon Memorial College, (now University of Khartoum). At that time, that College was affiliated to the University of London and so it was awarding University of London degrees.

Because of that, the degrees which our first group Southern university graduates like Aggrey Jaden, J