Sudanese security agents shut down four schools at refugee camps for South Sudanese citizens in White Nile state for teaching English instead of Arabic, a camp leader announced.
Al Kashaf camp leader Athiei Mayiik told Radio Tamazuj the security agents closed the schools and ordered parents to send their children to Arabic schools in surrounding villages.
“The Sudanese government does not want the South Sudanese students who are in refugee camps to learn English,” Athiei said.
He said the local authorities banned the native administration at the camps from holding a meeting to discuss the matter.
The state government has not yet intervened to solve the problem.
The refugee leader said the four schools were built by the South Sudanese refugees themselves so their children could receive education in English.
Nearly 1,300 South Sudanese students at the refugee camps previously failed examinations of Sudanese syllabus, Athiei said.
South Sudan has been transitioning away from the education system in Arabic used in Sudan since the country gained independence in 2011.
Following Tanzania’s example?
In February 2015, Tanzania President Jakaya Kikwete announced a change from the use of English to Kiswahili as the language of instruction in secondary schools.
Sifuni Mchome, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, said it was “a new educational overhaul plan, one that will extend basic education to Form 4, instead of the current Standard VII”.
The official also announced an abolition of national examinations for primary school leavers noting that students would have their final exams after 11 years in primary and secondary schools.
The new system will also make primary and secondary education free of charge at state-run schools.
According to Atetaulwa Ngatara, the assistant director for policy at the Ministry of Education and Vocational Training, Language studies will then be available to enable students to communicate in English.
Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete said the new system was part of his country’s Vision 2025.