After decades of conflict between the northern and southern regions of Sudan – which engulfed the country in two phases of civil war from 1955 to 1972 and 1982 to 2005 and resulted in the loss of 2.5 million lives1 – a Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2005 between the Sudanese government and the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA). One of the key clauses of the Peace Agreement was the recognition of South Sudan’s right to hold a referendum on whether to remain part of Sudan or secede to form a new nation. A referendum was held in January 2011 and resulted in a 98.8% approval of the option to secede . The Republic of South Sudan (population 8.26 million3 ) was established on July 9th 2011.
Several leading development agencies had posited education and equity as key themes at the onset of the 21st century. The United Nation’s Millennium Development Goal (MDG) No.2 “Achieve Universal Primary Education” and MDG No.3 “Promote Gender Equality and Empower Women” are devoted to educational attainment and equity on a global level. UNESCO’s Institute for Statistics (Sherman & Poirier 2007) recently published a book that compares education equity among 16 of the world’s largest countries. Although the focus of this UNESCO volume was limited—using access to formal schooling and allocated resources to education as operational definitions of equity in the case countries—the selection of this topic by UNESCO emphasizes the urgency of education inequality analysis by and for educators, researchers, and policy makers. The World Bank’s World Development Report (WDR) features a global development issue thought to be especially timely. The WDRs are generously funded and typically of high professional rigor. The discipline of economics is always well reported as expected. The WDR for 2006, in a line of such reports dating back to 1978, is titled Equity and Development. Equity or equality and its ubiquitously maligned antonym, inequality, is a theme that appears with uniform regularity in the publications of major development agencies as well as finding a home in the development prospectus of the smallest nongovernmental organizations. Linking equity to development in the title of the WDR 2006 will provide grist for the mill of only the most hardened of World Bank critics. Like us, many development professionals recognize the World Bank, with its enormous reach and prestige, for placing equity front and center on the development stage.
The role of education has progressively been recognized in the international development lexicon not only because of its pivotal role in improving the well-being of households and individuals but also the positive externalities that it generates for society as a whole. There is overwhelming and convincing empirical evidence that consistently indicates the positive impact of education on improving the well-being and reducing poverty and vulnerability of the poor households in the rural and urban settings. Interestingly, the role of education has also been recognised in the discourse on the causation of civil wars. Some empirical evidence shows that civil wars are concentrated in countries with little education and importantly a country with higher percentage of its youth in schools reduces considerably its risk of conflict (Collier, 2000). This finding has undoubtedly underpinned the important externalities generated by education and particularly in Africa where civil wars have become pronounced and endemic.
Sudan is in a critical political, socio-economic and demographic transition, particularly in the post-cessation era, together with emerging national opportunities and challenges vis-à-vis the changing governance in the Arab region and the internationally down-turning economies. The newly two established post-cessation countries (Sudan and Southern Sudan) have serious disputes and a long trail to reach a peaceful coexistence. Although the Government has recently signed Peace Agreement in Doha with some of the Darfuri rebel movements, brutal fighting is perpetual in South Kordofan, Blue Nile, and some pockets in Darfur.
Research also suggests education can entrench intolerance, create or perpetuate inequality and intensify social tensions that can lead to civil a key determinant of income, influence and power. Inequalities in educational access can lead to other inequalities – in income, employment, nutrition and health as well as political position, which can be an important source of conflict.
The newly-independent country of South Sudan is anchored to the bottom of the world league table for education. More than half of its primary school age children – over 1 million in total – are out of school. Young girls are more likely to die in pregnancy or childbirth than to graduate from primary school. South Sudan’s young people face restricted opportunities for the education they need to build a better future for themselves and their country. It is time for the world to come together and change this picture.
UNHCR’s leading role with refugees in countries of asylum is not in doubt. However, when refugees return to their countries of origin – which are often trying to recover from the devastation of war – donors do not agree on the extent of UNHCR’s involvement in reintegration activities. Some donors say that UNHCR is not a development agency and reintegration is not its job while others say that UNHCR should be helping devastated countries to absorb returning refugees by building schools and health centres. After decades of discussion about closing the gap between relief and development the international community needs to settle this problem once and for all. Development agencies have a different sense of urgency, timing and culture and they do not come onto the scene soon enough. UNHCR has a crucial reintegration role to play during transitional recovery periods.
The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has commissioned independent annual Human Development Reports (HDRs) since 1990 with the goal of putting people at the centre of development, going beyond income as a measure of assessing people’s longterm well-being. The HDRs messages and the tools to implement them have been embraced by governments and people around the developing world, as shown by the publication of many Regional and National Human Development Reports by more than 140 countries over the past two decades. This report is the first National HDR for Sudan and is the result of extensive consultations with leading scholars, government officials and development practitioners. The report examines the relationship between human development and conflict in Sudan. It shows that where conflict surges and thrives, among and within communities, human development suffers the most. And, where conflict is not the case, opportunities to expand human freedoms, obtain better educational opportunities, greater and equitable gender participation, improved infrastructure and better health services were realized. However, in Sudan, human development and conflict remain tied together. The Sudan Human Development Report takes aim at disentangling this complex relationship.
The authors hypothesize a relationship between household assets inequality, conflict and poor health outcomes in Sudan. Sudan’s 31 million people represent diverse cultures, both Arabic and African.Sudan is a poor country, with a Human Development index of 0.41, ranking 171st of 187 countries. The country has suffered political instability since independence from Britain in 1956,with two revolutions and a 40-year civil war. Armed conflict in western Sudan and states bordering South Sudan is ongoing (Central Intelligence Agency 2013).
During the first decade of democracy in South Africa, the economy has recorded one of its longest periods of positive economic growth in the country’s history. One of the more vexing issues within the economic policy terrain in post-apartheid South Africa though, has been the impact of this consistently positive growth performance on social welfare, specifically income poverty and inequality. Many observers have highlighted the potential harmful consequences of persistently high levels of poverty and, particularly economic inequality, on the quality and sustainability of democracy (See for example Bermeo, 2009; Kapstein & Converse, 2008 and Wells & Krieckhaus, 2006). High levels of inequality have been linked to behaviours such as decreased voter turnout, depressed political engagement and high crime rates – all of which can have a negative impact on the quality of democracy. Increasing levels of income inequality also have the potential to divide citizens and contribute to social conflict. In such a situation, the diverse pressures on a government can lead to politicians resorting to surreptitious tactics such as “playing some voters off against each other” (Bermeo, 2009).