SOUTH DARFUR, Sudan, 14 July 2010 – UNICEF and the Ministry of Education in the South Darfur region of Sudan have witnessed the successful completion of a key goal: providing a ‘second-chance examination’ for eighth-grade students affected by conflict in the locality of East Jabel Marra.
Due to recent fighting, the children had lost the opportunity to take the exam that would guarantee their school advancement.
With the strong advocacy of UNICEF´s education cluster and efforts by the Ministry and local government officials – as well as the support of international donors – the second-chance examination took place in Nyala town in May. A total of 304 pupils, including 48 girls, took exam.
Displacement and insecurity
It was the first time children affected by conflict here have been given such an opportunity. The students themselves, and other stakeholders in this endeavour, expressed pride in their achievement.
Under normal circumstances, these children would have taken the exam earlier, and in their own schools, but violence, displacement and insecurity have now become part of their daily lives.
Unfortunately, around 255 students could not attend the examination due to a lack of transportation caused by sustained fuel shortages in South Darfur. Efforts are under way to help them, too, complete their primary education.
‘A strong message’
The students who took the second-chance exam “are sending a strong message to the global community that they are here, despite the tragedies of violence and conflict, to contribute to future changes in their country,” said UNICEF Sudan’s Elamin Elnour, who works with the Child Friendly Community Initiative – an integrated approach to achieving sustainable improvements in the lives of rural children and women here.
“They are here to claim and exercise their right to education,” added Mr. Elnour. “They were strong enough to make a decision and they arrived at Nyala to take this exam against all odds, and despite the unpredictable security situation in South Darfur.”
The 48 girls who sat the exam, in particular, were role models for other girls whose future prospects greatly depend on their education, Mr. Elnour noted.