KOWALIP, SUDAN— The school dropout rate is at an all-time high in Sudan's South Kordofan state because many schools have been destroyed during the three-year civil war between the government and SPLA-N rebel forces. In Sudan's Nuba Mountains' region many children are simply too scared to go to school.
For three years, people have been living under the shadow of conflict in Sudan. Almost every school in the Nuba Mountains state of South Kordofan has been bombed or damaged by attacks and at least 40 percent remain closed. Many children have no school to go to or are afraid to attend.
Tunguli Model Primary School Headmaster Butru Mohan says the school was bombed last year and now holds lessons under trees close to some caves.
“One of the challenges which we have here, is security. That is our first thing," he said. "The second is school stationary is not there. The books we have are with the teachers. They are not enough for the pupils to be used.”
Children who do not have school books do mathematics in the sand. A blackboard was damaged after a bomb fell just meters away.
“We are facing many things in this school. Even we do not have exercises and we do not have pencils and even we are lacking, in terms of this thing we have that comes and bombs on us," she said. "So we are facing many problems here in this school.”
Officials say 120 of the 243 primary schools in 10 Nuba Mountains' counties have been bombed. Tunguli Model Primary has 13 teachers for 900 pupils.
“The teachers that are left here now. The teachers that are teaching the children, they are few and most they are not trained teachers," said Education Coordinator Peter Bashir Tutu. "They are not given salary and also due to aerial bombardment they started fearing and many went [fled] to the camp. Here we are offering ourselves freely, people are teaching without payment. There is no payment, even to get a piece of soap for washing the clothes for teaching the children is now a problem.”
Head teacher Kuku Barnabas says Kowda's teacher training school is still operating after being bombed, but cannot take all the students.
“Because of the war, most of the secondary schools closed down and most of the students, they ran away to refugee camps and even teachers who were teaching in the secondary schools, they ran away to Yida refugee camp," he said. "We are left only with one institute, which is this one here and even the number of students we normally meet is dropped simply because we cannot accommodate.”
The Enough Project estimates 53 percent of children in the region's households are not attending classes because schools are not functioning, they cannot afford school fees and because of insecurity. Under a blockade by the Sudanese government, civilians living in SPLA-N held areas receive no humanitarian support.
This unexploded bomb, dropped by the Sudan government, sits in the grass just meters from Peace High School for girls.
Many here speculate the attacks on civilians are designed to drive out the population and destabilize support for the SPLA-N rebels. Meanwhile, bombing schools is destroying a future generation's right to education.
This afternoon children learn Swahili, a crucial part of Sudan’s curriculum. Many hope to escape to Swahili-speaking countries where there is no war.