Political Reports

Decision to Open Sudanese Universities – More Than Just a Question Mark

Report by Nawal Shanan

The war that has been going on since mid-April between the Sudanese army and the Rapid Support Militia, has affected life in the country in all aspects, not only in the battlefield in Khartoum and some states of Darfur. It has affected university and school premises by burning, looting, and disrupting studies which has led to the closure of these premises whether by decisions from the government or automatically as a result of loss of security.

Although the war is still continuing, and the reality on the ground has not changed, the Minister of Cabinet Affairs, Hussein Othman Hussein, directed yesterday, Saturday, to open universities and schools in all states where the security conditions allow for this, and to coordinate with the relevant authorities to prepare the environment and conducive conditions, so that this will be done in a timely manner on a date no later than the end of this October.

As a result, the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, Professor Mohamed Hassan Dahab, addressed the directors of governmental and private universities to open starting from October 15th of this month. He directed them to resume all academic activities, and held a meeting on the evening of the same day in his temporary office at the Red Sea University in Port Sudan with the leaders of his ministry. He discussed the latest developments in the current situation in higher education institutions in light of the circumstances that the country is going through, with the announcement of an appointment to hold a meeting with the directors of Sudanese universities next Thursday in Port Sudan to discuss the necessary arrangements to resume studies on the specified date.

After these decisions and directives were issued and the public was informed, they were met with a number of criticisms and even mockery and disapproval. This is in consideration to circumstances that imposed the closure of universities and the suspension of studies even for some private universities that have resorted to providing headquarters abroad or those that decided to study (online).

“The circumstances are still present from due to the continuation of the war, the collapse of the infrastructure, and the displacement of students, whether inside or outside the country,” according to what was reported by students to (Sudan Events), “The person who thought about this idea is definitely someone who is outside Sudan and presented it to the people.” They added, “The minister and the Council of Ministers thought that what they did would earn them media gain, but on the contrary, it will produce the opposite result and increase people’s suffering.”

Others told (Sudan Event) that the decision does not mention the displaced students and the possibility of accommodating them, whether students of higher or general education, and the matter requires arrangements with the Ministry of Finance, which has failed even to provide salaries. This makes it difficult to implement it on the ground.

A third team pointed to a different point. They said that a large number of university students left for Egypt, and unfortunately, Egypt raised the fees. In the past, studying cost 600 dollars, but now its costs more than 6 thousand dollars, excluding procedures fees.

According to the students, the directive to open universities from the Minister and his Ministers will only benefit the owners of private universities and colleges, and the private schools that have been opened in Egypt which are able to generate income.

An important point that must be mentioned is that some university, school and boarding school premises have become centers to shelter those who left Khartoum. So, where will they go? Especially according to a source that the Student Support Fund addressed the governors to evacuate the boarding houses with the aim of preparing them to receive students.

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