It was a hot, humid day in Sudan’s capital, and Awad Ahmed should have been in school. Instead, the 12-year-old, who dropped out of school in seventh grade, was hunting for cars to wash in the streets of Khartoum.
When asked what he wants to do when he grows up, he replied nonchalantly: “I don’t know. Maybe a doctor.”
Rushing to a motorcycle whose driver had just pulled up, Ahmed expertly negotiated a price of 20 Sudanese pounds ($3) for washing the vehicle. He cradled a bucket of soapy water, grabbed a piece of cloth from a bag strapped to his waist, and eyed the motorcycle before deciding where to start.
“I have two little sisters. My mother said I should stay in school, but we don’t have enough money. And I am the man; I should bring [the money],” Ahmed told Al Jazeera.
“My father passed away two years ago. I am the man of the house now. Who will provide food but me?”
Sudan is home to 7.9 million children between the ages of five and 13. Of those, 3.1 million are not in school, according to a report jointly released last month by the Sudanese Ministry of Education and UNICEF.
The report cited ongoing conflict, a lack of awareness of the importance of education and economic conditions as the main reasons for children dropping out of school.
Certain factors put some children at an even higher risk of dropping out: A primary-school-aged girl from a poor family, who has an uneducated mother and lives in a rural area, is 40 times more likely to be out of school than an urban, middle-class boy with an educated mother.
Mohamed Salim Gutbi, the director of educational planning at Sudan’s education ministry, is hopeful that progress is being made.
“Currently, we have 2.9 million children who [are entering] school every year, including new admissions and out-of-school returnees,” Gutbi told Al Jazeera, expressing hope that the state would be able to solve the problem entirely within a decade. He would not elaborate on how that could be achieved.
- Pray for Sudan, as it copes with continuing conflict and the social issues related to this.
- Pray for the children of Sudan, many of whom are shouldering adult responsibilities. Pray that God will intervene in this nation and that many children and families will come to know the truth of Jesus, is grace and Gospel.
- Pray for the Sudan government to see how important education is, and to put in place whatever is needed for all children to gain an education.
- Pray that, as they learn to read, children and families will have access to the Bible, and read of God’s great love for them.
Proverbs 14 vs 26: “In the fear of the Lord one has strong confidence, and one’s children will have a refuge.”