Education is serious business. It determines the future of our nation.
The main concept in this article is to go for an internationally recognized structure, rather than remain tied to a regional education philosophy which has not proved its worth regionally or internationally.
By professor M Y Sukkar (MB,BS, Kh., PhD, Edinburgh),
President, Nile University
“Concepts are ideas that encompass the limitations of individual details to draw attention to the bigger picture” M.Y.S.2019.
After the youth revolt we became conscious that we need leadership with ideas for building our country – that has been lead up to now with narrow visions, self centered & power-seeking individuals or groups – even well meaning leaders who emerge from time to time did not have the support that will drive the cart forward.
To begin with, will we need ideas that will reform our education system.
The main concept in this article is to go for an internationally recognized structure rather than remain tied to a regional education philosophy; which has not proved its worth regionally or internationally.
In the Sudan, as in other countries in the region, we have been following a system of education that has changed little over the last 60 years or more. And what has changed has been piecemeal without a national long sighted vision.
It can safely be said that with the autocratic & failed democratic governments since independence, very little has been done to catch up with the leaps and bounds in school systems taking place around the world.
During the years 1969- 1985 when there was a one party system, that molded itself on that of the Egyptian Socialist Union, we copied the Egyptian system; most probably to be in line with the Arab world. In so doing the educational inputs of the national educationists at Bakht Al Rudha were thrown out of the window and the Neo-educationalists took over. However, at the beginning of that period we still had well selected teaches who were also trained in educational methods. They still had the capacity to teach the new syllabuses with great efficiency – this resulted in a generation who could still cope with the University of Khartoum requirements.
The same period had also witnessed a great increase in Pre-University education in many parts of the country speared by public demand and support. Schools were built, and the government pledged support by providing the teachers – Crash programs and recruitment of teachers took place leaving much to be desired in both content expertise and teaching skills.
In 2019 we are still in this muddle of poor planning and limited resources. A high percentage of schools are not fit to be schools and a large proportion of the teachers had little if any educational training – Evidence? – teachers who can teach no longer work for government schools. Only those who have no chance of another job, go for this poorly paid job and are ready to leave with the least incentive from another employer; or migrate for any type of job.
This state of affairs has left the educational sector in a state of disarray – Very few qualified educationalists were leading this sector. The ministers were selected for any other reason but that of their competence & drive to develop and improve the education system.
It is time we woke up: Education is number one priority if we want to develop in this fast moving world.
We need courage and we need imagination; to seek systems that have been tried and succeeded in educating youth ready to go into production or further training or ready to go into higher and graduate education.
There are many models of education that have been developed and tried all over the world – their success should be measured by their results – we should look for a system that will produce
- Motivated students
- Willing to work & think on their own
- Have a positive attitudes towards society and country
- Have appropriate knowledge and skills to move into further education or training
- Have opportunities for original thinking – to develop new ideas.
- Have opportunities to develop critical thinking, leadership skills and social work.
- Have good command of an international language
- Have competence in the use of information technologies.
The list is not complete by any means. We may need many workshops or “think tanks” to develop these ideas further.
Ideas For Educational system Development
Grades in line with international systems: A system that may suit the requirements of Sudan as well as the international school grades system & can be adapted to cater for both academic and technical streams may be conceived as follow:
- Primary Schools: Grades 1 – 6: Age 6 yrs – 12 yrs.
Goals: on completion of this stage children should be able to read & write in mother language – elementary maths. and science relevant to everyday life, national history & geography and Sudan environment, reading & writing in English up to stage 2.
- Secondary Schools: Grades 7 – 10: Age 12 yrs – 16 yrs
Goals: to prepare students for (SSSC) Sudan Secondary School Certificate) either further academic or technology college education
Students learn more languages (Arabic & English) – more science, more history, geography, literature. At this stage no need to sit for separate exams in the sciences of biology, chemistry and physics.
- Preparatory College: Grades 11 – 12: Age 16,18 or19 yrs.
The preparatory Colleges prepare students for (SGCE) Sudan General Certificate of Education – Prep for university entrance.
Goals: To study 3 or 4 subjects in depth. To develop study skills & independent learning habits.
In all these stages course objectives, contents and methods of teaching & learning should be clearly stated and textbooks judiciously selected and revised.
Assessment methods: It is well known that exams drive learning. So, when the exams are set to higher learning objectives (i.e. higher than memorizing), students will learn to achieve these objectives (i.e. using knowledge to solve a case scenario or problem).
- Do away with rote learning assessment
- Go for understanding and original thinking
- Application of knowledge rather than reproducing facts
- Solve problems
- Ability to read & write!! in two languages
(These suggestions are based on experiences with first year students who qualify under the present school system, to enter universities with severe language and science difficulties both in Arabic & English).
Advantages of the 6, 4 and 2 years School stages
- After 6 years of basic educ. At the age of 12 some students can go into vocational training – join family businesses, or trades etc., or continue through 4 yrs of secondary
- After 4 years of secondary school at age 16 a student will be ready for further academic or for technological education or training at a higher level than the present basic educ.
- After 2 years of Prep College at age 18 students should be ready for higher education.
- The above stages can form a pyramid with a wide base in favour of basic education
- The intermediate stage will prepare adolescents for technological college and further academic education
- The preparatory colleges shall be smaller in Number with focused education for university education.
- The smaller number will enable better facilities especially for the sciences and better selection of teachers, which should narrow the gap between the private schools and the gov. ones.
- Doing away with the present phenomenon of half a million young men and women aiming at a university degree, and more than half of this number failing to do so.
- Failing entry into universities, there would be good options for technological colleges aiming at employable graduates in agriculture and industry
- Last but not least, the school stages will take care of the physiologcal and social growth stages of students with similar age groups.
This system to work will need a preschool period (for 4-6 yrs. olds), during which attention should be given to what is lacking in the home environment. It is during these formative years that good habits, behaviors and attitudes develop. It is important that children should learn to clean their hands, speak with respect to each other & with teacher (who should herself be trained to instill good habits, motivation and interest – appreciation of the environment, keeping it clean; respecting and taking care of each other, work in little teams, be rewarded for achievement than punished for mistakes.
From this early age some skills can also be learnt such as good handwriting – & drawing – making objects (crafts) using suitable local material. We used to make boats & steamers out of paper or durra stalks held together by little strips of their hard covering. It is evident that such experiences develop cooperation, hand skills, coordination, appreciation of distance, proportion & the imagination….among other things.
A child who completes this phase of education will be ready to learn more, to behave better and to keep the school clean as well as to be competitive in his attitudes to learning, sports and art or craft.
This preschool program has attempted to make an effort to instill habits, personality traits and necessary social attitudes for growing up as keen, interested, well behaved individuals ready to learn more interesting things that will help them develop into productive adults.
We need thousands of preschool teachers and child supervisors. They need to be specially trained to care for the age 4-6.There are now very few higher education institutes who do that kind of training. Government subsidized programs with paid jobs for trainees, may solve the problem of motivation to join this type of training.
The teachers in these schools should have a college or university degree and training in education. A one year diploma with in service training will be needed- attractive jobs with pay during study for the basic degree and diploma will help motivation to join the programme.
Teachers should have university degrees in specific subjects or graduate degree or diploma plus education training or diploma in education. They should be content competent at university level to be able to help youngsters with the subjects of their specialty.
Prep College (or junior college):
Teachers in prep colleges should hold an M Sc or M A by courses (not by research).These Master Degrees need to contain educational subjects and hands-on training.
The prep college is meant to prepare students both in personal development and academically, to pursue their studies in any university whether in Sudan or abroad.
The School as a Centre for empowerment & Community Development:
The school building, staff, students & practices should all be designed and run in a way that purposefully aim at changes that positively impact the community.
Team work adopted as continuous involvement & not as “knee jerk” activity, is team work which may be punctuated by “nafeers” for specific purposes.
Adults as well as children should benefit from the presence of this centre that radiates a new culture of acceptance of diversity and cooperation, of building quality & beauty, art and music.
An atmosphere of happiness rather than that of glum elders leading society according to traditions that preserve the status-co, without vision for a fast moving future getting more distant by the minute.
The school is a source of empowerment of the community to set their own goals and pursue their implementation.
It is the ultimate goal of our education system to produce a core of competence in every walk of life, to contribute to national development projects and to maintain our name in education throughout the world.