Women’s Education Partnership (WEP) is very excited to announce a new 3-year project starting in 2021 – training teachers in elementary girls’ schools in settlements around Khartoum. We are very fortunate to be supported in this by a very generous grant from the British and Foreign School Society (BFSS).
WEP already supports the education of disadvantaged pupils in these elementary schools to ensure that they can complete their basic education. Now BFSS is enabling us to take the crucial next step in improving the quality of teaching in 30 of these deprived schools. This will have beneficial results for the teachers who receive the training, for their pupils and for the capability and standing of the schools and the communities they serve. We are very grateful to BFSS for this support.
Women’s Education Partnership (WEP) is proud and honoured to announce that Leila Aboulela has agreed to become our newest patron. As many will know, Leila is a Sudanese writer living in Scotland. She was the first winner of the Caine Prize for African Writing and her work has been recognized for its distinctive exploration of migration and Islamic spirituality. She has published five novels, an award- winning collection of short stories, and several of her plays have been broadcast on the BBC. She is Honorary President of the SSSUK (The Society for the Study of the Sudans) and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
WEP’s Chair of Trustees, Simon Boyd, said: “We are delighted to welcome Leila Aboulela as our new patron. She has a unique perspective, bringing together an understanding of how it feels to be at home both in the Sudan and in the UK, and gives us a subtle, engaging and moving view of life in the Sudan, especially the experience of women. We look forward to her helping to bring the message about WEP’s work and programmes to a wider audience in UK, Sudan and elsewhere.”
Leila Aboulela said, “It’s an honour to be named as WEP’s newest patron. The work they do not only empowers women but also benefits their children, extended families, and communities. Illiteracy is a disability and a prison; education is life enhancing and nurturing. I am excited to join this amazing charity and grateful for the opportunity to help women in Sudan.’’
For more information about Leila and her work, please visit:
Over the past month, our director, Neimat Issha, has been undertaking field visits to all the orphans’ elementary schools we support. These schools are community built and run and were desperately short of resources even before the floods struck. While some have mercifully escaped major damage, several have seen serious structural damage and one has lost its water supply.
Below are some photos from a 4th September visit to just one of the ten schools we support – Amna Bint Wahab Elementary School. As you can see, there has been extensive damage to classroom roofs, walls, latrines and offices, making much of the premises unsafe. Like many schools, it has lost many of its desks, benches and teaching resources.
We are preparing to undertake both emergency and longterm repair work to our worst affected schools like Amna Bint Wahab and we will update you on our progress as soon as we can. We aim, funding permitting, to make repairs that will ensure our schools are more resilient to extreme weather events in the future and guarantee stability for our orphans in their schooling as the impact of climate change on Sudan intensifies.
“559 schools have been damaged, 51 schools are hosting displaced persons seeking shelter and 102,000 school children have been affected in Khartoum State.” – our Country Director, Mrs Neimat Issha, quoting latest Education Ministry forum data.
Many schools not suffering major damage have been given over to emergency shelter for evacuees unable to return to their homes. Lack of clean water, flooded and broken latrines, collapsed roofs and structural damage have made schools unsafe. School textbooks, chairs, desks and other school supplies have been destroyed. In many areas, flooding has gravely disrupted electricity supplies and those lucky enough to have online access for home study have had no internet service for several weeks. National school certificate exams have been delayed and many thousands have been unable to sit the exams or are unaccounted for.
You can make the repairs to this and our other damaged elementary schools possible. Please consider donating to us so we can carry out these vital repairs and help little girls return to the classroom safely.
Orphan Pupils from the Elementary schools we support
In the first edition of our student stories, we hear from one of WEP’s funded university scholars, Hawa:
“I am Hawa Adam Dawood from Khartoum, and I study at Ahfad University for Women, in the School of Psychology. I am in my third year, with interest in special education at kindergarten level.
At the beginning my main difficulty was the English language. In time I set a goal to overcome the problem, and have made continuous improvement by reading and speaking a lot in English. I aspire to prove to myself and to everyone around me that girls are able to make their own destiny and reach the highest levels of success. I want to leave my fingerprint in the field of special education, by giving girls the support they need to solve all their problems and to stand up for their rights in society.
In Sudan the main problem is society’s view of women as weak, their only role is to have children, raise them, and take care of the home. But today this female is able to make a difference in society, and this is what I found in the organisation and at Ahfad University for Women.
Finally, don’t seek encouragement from others, make up your own encouragement. Don’t wait for others to give you reason to do something, do it for yourself. No reason is greater than yourself, and no-one is more important than you.”
Women’s Education Partnership is very conscious of what a challenging time we all face – our learners, donors and supporters, and our small staff team in the Sudan. The Covid-19 virus pandemic has turned our world upside down. In common with many other countries, Sudan has now adopted a policy of ‘stay at home’ to limit the spread of the virus. Sudan is some weeks behind the UK on the trajectory of the virus, just at the beginning of the outbreak. It is almost certainly at greater risk because its health system is less developed and less well resourced.
We hope and pray that the outbreak will be successfully contained in Sudan and South Sudan, and we are very concerned about the safety of our Sudanese staff and all our contacts there.
What is our response?
In Sudan the universities, schools and our WEP literacy circles have all been closed down for the present because of the pandemic. We have instructed our small in-country staff team in Khartoum to work from home and we have equipped them with laptops to make it possible for them to communicate online. Our staff have also advised our literacy facilitators, our literacy learners and our undergraduate students at university to stay at home.
We hope that when the outbreak is over, we will be able to return to normal and provide our services to learners as before.
We are also pleased to be able to contribute to a ‘national response’ to the crisis, at the invitation of the Humanitarian Aid Commission. Our local staff are helping extend awareness of the virus threat and to facilitate distribution of official awareness literature to our literacy learners and their families in deprived areas around Khartoum.
We aim to keep all our supporters informed of development through posts on this website and through our blog at: https://womensliteracysudan.blog/
South Sudan faces a similarly uncertain future with the advent of Covid-19. As in the north, it has declared a lock down of schools and other institutions. Our activities in the South with the Kimu Integrated Development Organisation are temporarily suspended, and we are aiming to begin again once the crisis is past.