Academic journal article Refuge

Displaced Sudanese Voices on Education, Dignity, and Humanitarian Aid

Academic journal article Refuge

Displaced Sudanese Voices on Education, Dignity, and Humanitarian Aid

Article excerpt


Education is viewed by Sudanese refugees and internally displaced persons as a key prerequisite for social status, prestige, socio-economic survival, and therefore human dignity. Using Sudan as a case study, the article demonstrates that humanitarian aid--which claims to ensure the basic conditions for a life with dignity--often attributes less importance to education than to other sectors such as water, nutrition, and health. Utilizing anecdotal evidence from internally displaced persons in conflict-affected regions of Sudan, this article illustrates that the humanitarian aid agenda fails to adequately address what their target population most demands: education.


L'education est consideree par les refugies soudanais et les personnes deplacees a Vinterieur du Soudan comme une condition prealable essentielle pour le statut social, leprestige, la survie socioeconomique et done la dignite humaine. Utilisant le Soudan comme etude de cas, Varticle montre que Vaide humanitaire, qui pretend assurer les conditions de base pour une vie dans la dignite, attribue souvent moins d'importance a Veducation qua d'autres secteurs tels que Veau, la nutrition ou la sante. A Vaide de temoignages anecdotiques de personnes deplacees dans les regions touchees par le conflit au Soudan, cet article montre que le programme humanitaire ne repond pas adequatement au besoin principal de sa population cible: Veducation.


The Sphere Project's Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards in Humanitarian Response defines humanitarianism as "our shared conviction as humanitarian agencies that all people affected by disaster or conflict have a right to receive protection and assistance to ensure the basic conditions for life with dignity." (2) Later the handbook argues that the "right to life with dignity ... entails the duty to preserve life where it is threatened. Implicit in this is the duty not to withhold or frustrate the provision of life-saving assistance." (3) It then continues to argue, "Dignity entails more than physical well-being; it demands respect for the whole person, including the values and beliefs of individuals and affected communities, and respect for their human rights, including liberty, freedom of conscience and religious observance." (4)

Numerous organizations' mission statements, international covenants, mandates, and resolutions call for a commitment to dignity. (5) This article aims to illustrate how the provision of basic education services in humanitarian situations continues to be underfunded and undervalued, despite the fact that populations affected by conflict or disasters consider access to education an integral component of a life with dignity. Using Sudan as an example, this article r illustrates that education is indeed a valued and sought-after asset, (6) and that humanitarian interventions that give preference to the provision of food, water, and health services only, fail to take into account the values and beliefs of their target beneficiaries.

In this article, we begin with a situation analysis of Sudan, a country suffering from "chronic emergencies" for more than a decade. We then present an education context analysis, which illustrates the dim prospects of Sudanese IDP and refugee children and youth to obtain access to adequate and quality education. The article will demonstrate, on the basis of a comparison of financial allocation amounts made by different humanitarian funds, that education is not being given equal priority, despite the fact that target populations consider it of equal importance. Then using voices of those affected, we present why education makes a fundamental difference in the lives of children and youth affected by crisis. We conclude by providing evidence for why education must not only be included but prioritized when funding and delivering humanitarian responses, and highlight the importance of critically looking at an education system and its impact on a nation's development and citizen building. …

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