The Nuba Mountains of Southern Kordofan, in central Sudan, were devastated by a civil war up to 19th January 2002, when a ceasefire was signed between the central government and the Sudan People Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A).
The advent of the civil war in 1985 affected and interrupted basic services. Many children were traumatised, and victimised, while many others were separated from their parents and immediate guardians. Aerial bombardment of community centres, villages, markets and farms left Nuba children live in constant fears.
The few schools that were established prior to the war were ruined and used for purposes other than learning. Hence a generation of Nuba children lost opportunities for learning. The SPLM/A starting from 1995 encouraged the establishment of community schools.
In January 2002, a humanitarian cease-fire was reached between the belligerents. The positive environment brought forth by the new development is believed to accelerate development, rehabilitation and reconstruction of various sectors among which education would gain greatly.
With the signing of a Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January 2005, peace and stability were reinforced. Power and wealth are supposed to trickle down from the Government of National Unity to the State and for the first time in history the Nuba will be enjoying self-governance.
Education as a vital institution in forming human resource needs major support. As it has been the case during the war and the humanitarian cease-fire, the Nuba have rejected Arabic patterned education. The building up of a new curriculum shall continue throughout the interim period that will go for the next six years.
There have been tremendous changes in the Nuba Region after the cease-fire agreement. Barter economy is gradually been replaced by monetized economy. Chains of markets have blossomed in the recent past in various areas such as Kauda, Komu, Luwere etc., with commodities finding their ways from East Africa.
Civilians have opportunity to access markets with no restriction as freedom of movement is now established.
International agencies have embarked on major projects of roads rehabilitation thus facilitating transport of goods.
Micro-finance institutions are expected to operate soon through the Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Council (NRRDC).
Stability brought about by peace opened avenues for many internally displaced Nuba (IDPs) and those exiled in the East African countries to return home. Return of IDPs and others from Eat Africa has consequences on the social and cultural set-up of the area. Population has increased. All villages in host a number of IDPs, who carry with them new ways of dressing, thinking, socializing and generally of doing things. The influx of people areas has affected the environment; more resources are needed to cater for the increasing numbers. Schools, Health Centres, and others have to increase their services in order to cater for the growing population.
Attempts to establish Schools by Christian missionaries were made as early as 1887, when Catholic missionary Saint Daniel Comboni attempted to open a school with the consent of a local chief named Kakum; however, it did nor materialise as the Comboni Missionaries suffered persecution during the El Madhi revolution. During the Colonial rule of 1889-1955, few schools were established in the area. British missionaries opened the first school in Salara village of the Nuba Mountains, which lies south of Dilling town. This was followed by chains of schools run by the missionaries in Heiban, Kauda, Tabanya, Shatt and Abri. These schools formed church leaders such as Archbishop Philip Ghabush who studied in Shatt School.
From 1922 to 1947 the area experienced what came to be termed the ‘closed districts’ ordinance. This policy attempted to seal the region from Arab influences. Throughout this period the Condominium administration faced the impasse of whether to adopt English or Arabic as the official language of instruction in schools. A decision was reached at the end of the closed district ordinance and Arabic was endorsed as the language of instruction, unlike in the South that underwent the same policy but adopted English as its lingua franca.
The government then established chains of government-sponsored schools adjacent to missionary schools i.e. Kadugli, Dilling, Talodi, Heiban, and Delami. These schools were established to control and reduce Missionary influences in the region.
Moreover, negative traditional views held by the Nuba about education-hampered education. Parents those days preferred to keep their children at home than to send them to these remote towns to access education. To make things worse those who benefited from these schools usually did not return to their villages.
Those who benefited from the government sponsored schools became alienated from their people and culture. After completion of secondary and tertiary education Nuba graduates were frustrated further as they found themselves not considered for high prestigious jobs. This in turn led to Nuba frustrated intellectuals to participate in the civil war that broke out in 1983. Nuba intellectuals were the first victims of the civil strife as they were prosecuted and considered ringleaders in the armed conflict that was the first in its kind in the region. Many intellectuals, technocrats and professionals were displaced to the North while others joined the SPLA.
From 1987 schools ceased to function till 1996 when the SPLA adopted a policy of promoting “bush schools” with the assistance of local communities. Communities however lacked the financial and human resource. Schools operated with no stationary and other education material. Both parents and pupils lacked confidence on the quality of learning in the bush schools. Enrolment levels were very low due. In the year 2000 there were 94 bush schools. In the year 2001, the Regional Secretariat of Education came up with a policy of upgrading the bush schools into model schools by providing expatriate teachers, mainly from East Africa.
Few NGOs have so far responded to the strategy of upgrading the bush schools into model schools. At present there are 24 model schools supported by agencies such as Koinonia, Samaritan Purse-International Relief, Norwegian Church Aid (NCA), International Aid Sweden (IAS), and Nuba Relief, Rehabilitation and Development Organisation (NRRDO) as well as Church sponsored agencies among others. Currently there are 26,000 Nuba children accessing basic education, while an estimated number of 12,000 children are out of school. Quality learning could be said of being offered in the 24 sponsored-schools. Only 10,000 children are enrolled in these schools and could be said of accessing quality education. The remaining 16,000 are enrolled in the bush schools that lack learning facility and qualified teachers.