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Tuesday, September 12, 2006

School's out, there's a war on

'Education in Southern Sudan is almost non-existent,
due to over two decades of war. More than 1.5 million
people have been killed and about four million forced
to flee to the north or to other countries. Many of
them have still not been able to return.The education
system and infrastructure have been totally destroyed.

'Over the last ten years, ad hoc education programmes
have been set up by local communities, NGOs and
faith-based organisations, but the Ministry of Education
is run by volunteers and teachers are untrained, unpaid
and often have had very little schooling themselves.
Going to school, for those children who do, means
sitting under a tree or in a grass hut, with no water
or toilets, without even the most basic teaching and
learning materials.

'The children of Southern Sudan have the least access
to primary education in the world. Around 20 per cent
of children enrol in school, with only 2 per cent
completing primary education.The situation is even
worse for girls. In a population of between six and
seven million, 500 girls finish primary school each year.

'Now that a separate government has been set up
and a fragile peace negotiated, people are beginning
to return to the south, placing an even greater strain
on a non-functioning education system.'

- from Save the Children's report 'Rewrite the Future: Education for children in conflict-affected countries' (pdf via StC and the BBC)

My gloss on this, which StC might or might not agree with, concerns the mainstream-media-eye view of the world. These are forgotten victims of a forgotten conflict - except that 'forgotten' is the wrong word since it was almost totally ignored by the media while it was raging.

Probably most of what I know about Darfur comes from the blogs I read regularly (honourable mention to Mick Hartley), but over the last few months the msm have finally started to wake up. The BBC website is reasonably good (I suspect the Nine O'Clock News is a different story, though) and the Telegraph's David Blair is outstanding (I never thought I'd live to see the day when I put 'Telegraph' and 'outstanding' into the same sentence).

That awakening never happened in twenty years of carnage in the South.

Darfur is Muslim on Muslim. The South was Muslim on non-Muslim. 1.5 million dead (some say 2 million) are quite a lot of exceptions to fit into the theory that the West is engaged in an anti-Muslim crusade. But you couldn't know that if you never read about them or saw them on TV.

The StC report mentions Palestine once for the sake of form - well, you have to keep the lefties happy. Of course the education problem exists there, but since it isn't isn't quantified you can be sure that it pales into insignificance in comparison with vast swathes of Africa. Vast, reporter-free swathes of Africa.

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