Context of Sudan: Marginalisation, ICT and English

By Amna Bedri

Marginalisation exists in all societies, even in the most developed societies, but it is more pronounced in low-income or under-resourced contexts. In Sudan, marginalisation can have many causes. It can affect people who are exposed to hazards such as drought, conflict, violence, poverty, and also to adverse socioeconomic, institutional and environmental conditions. According to UNICEF (2014,p.3), “disadvantaged groups [in Sudan] includes nomads, war-affected populations; youth involvement in the military and internally displaced persons. Children from poor families”. There are also homeless children, children with special needs and working children. Even children living with their families in distant rural villages are deprived of education.
At the top of the list of marginalized children of school age are girls of nomadic families and girls of internally displaced populations. They are triply marginalized because they are girls, because of the conditions of their families and because of the lack of services, which means they are overburdened with household chores such as fetching water and firewood on a daily basis, they may also be required to look after siblings if the mother is working to support the family. In addition, they are subject to such cultural practices as child marriage and male favouritism. For instance, in Nuba mountains, marginalized communities are affected by civil war, an almost–constant state of conflict with the government of Sudan since 1989 which has affected the provision of educational services and international aid, while lack of education has led to lack of skills and means of livelihood.
Access to technology and knowledge of the English language are both means of empowerment and overcoming of marginalization. However, none of the state primary schools uses technology in classrooms. The existing equipment is used for administrative purposes only. “Sudan has launched many initiatives, aimed at implementing ICT in the education system” (Tairab, et al., 2017, p.312), but there are many challenges such as lack of written policy to use ICT for educational purposes in primary schools, lack of technology/equipment and proper training for teachers, lack of contents, and lack of proper skill and awareness of teachers and education managers (Ahmed, 2015). In addition, there are constraints of shortage and cost of electricity and internet connection in most parts of the country.
The digital divide in Sudan is actually between those who are enrolled in state schools and others who are enrolled in private/international schools. State primary schools cover only 50% of the children of school age. This was clear during the Covid-19 crisis when many private schools used different means of technology to continue offering classes online while none of the state schools had such a system. For example, some private schools used ZOOM, others provided iPads for their children and the children use them now even in face-to-face classes. In these schools, gender is not a factor. The private schools also use other forms of technology in classrooms such as smart boards, multimedia and tablets with downloaded syllabus material. An exception in the state schools is the e-learning project implemented by the Federal Ministry of Education, some state ministries and a group of partners and donors, namely: UNICEF, Ahfad University for Women, War Child Holland and Dutch Research Institute TNO. The main objective of the e-learning project is to provide education for out of school children in remote rural villages; for example one project targeted 2000 children in remote areas in Kassala (Eastern Sudan). It is now on hold because of problems in the solar power generators used to charge the laptops.

Generally, English language teaching/ learning has gone downhill in government schools since 1989; these schools lack basic requirements such as English language textbooks, teaching resources and teachers. Most teachers in rural areas come directly from secondary schools without access to any kind of training. In one of our target schools located in an urban setting, there is only one textbook for the whole class of over 60 students. This has created a linguistic gap adding to the existing causes of marginalization of these children. Families prefer sending their children to English medium private and international schools, if they can afford to do so.

Ahmed, A. (2015). Managing information and communication technology in Sudanese secondary school. Journal of Education and Practice, 6 (32), 1-8.

Tairab,A., Huang, R., Chang, T. & Zheng, L. (2019). A framework to promote ICT in K-12 education in developing countries: A case study in Sudan, Conference Paper. Available at:

UNICEF (2014). Middle East and North Africa out-of-school children initiative. Sudan Country Report On Out-Of-School Children. Available at:

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