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date: 24 April 2019

Education in Colonial Sudan, 1900–1957

Summary and Keywords

In the first half of the 20th century, Sudan, which included the territories of present-day Sudan and South Sudan, was ruled by a dual colonial government known as the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium (1899–1956). Britain was the senior partner in this administration, Egypt being itself politically and militarily subordinated to Britain between 1882 and 1956. During most of the colonial period, Sudan was ruled as two Sudans, as the British sought to separate the predominantly Islamic and Arabic-speaking North from the multireligious and multilingual South. Educational policy was no exception to this: until 1947, the British developed a government school system in the North while leaving educational matters in the hands of Christian missionaries in the South. In the North, the numerically dominant government school network coexisted with Egyptian schools, missionary schools, community schools, and Sudanese private schools. In the South, schools were established by the Anglican Church Missionary Society, the Roman Catholic Verona Fathers, and the American Presbyterian Mission. Whereas Arabic and English were the mediums of instruction in Northern schools, the linguistic situation was more complicated in the South, where local vernaculars, English and Romanized Arabic were used in missionary schools.

The last colonial decade (1947–1957) witnessed a triple process of educational expansion, unification, and nationalization. Mounting Anglo-Egyptian rivalries over the control of Sudan and the polarization of Sudanese nationalists into “pro-British” independentists and “pro-Egyptian” unionists led the British authorities in Khartoum to boost government education while giving up the policy of separate rule between North and South. In practice, educational unification of the two Sudanese regions meant the alignment of Southern curricula on Northern programs and the introduction of Arabic into Southern schools, first as a subject matter, then as a medium of instruction. Missionary and other private schools were nationalized one year after Sudan gained independence from Britain and Egypt (1956).

Keywords: Sudan, Condominium, colonialism, imperialism, Britain, Egypt, education, schooling, missions, language

In 1899 the Sudanese Mahdist state (1885–1898) was defeated by an Anglo-Egyptian army led by Major-General Herbert Kitchener. Sudan1 was placed under “Condominium” rule for half a century before gaining independence in 1956. This dual form of colonial government, which was invented by Lord Cromer (British consul general in Egypt, 1883–1907), established joint Anglo-Egyptian rule over the country. Yet in practice all decision-making powers were retained by British officials while Egyptians occupied low-level posts in Sudan’s administration and army. This is not surprising given that Egypt itself was subordinated to Britain to various degrees, evolving from a British-occupied Ottoman province (1882) to a British protectorate (1914), a nominally independent monarchy (1923) and a republic (1953). Although the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was administrated in a similar way to other British colonial territories, it was not formally a colony, being attached to the British Foreign Office (FO) rather than to the Colonial Office (CO). The largest country in Africa was run by several hundreds of Britons relying on thousands of Sudanese, Egyptian, and Syrian clerks, translators, accountants, tax collectors, judges, and teachers.

Education in Colonial Sudan, 1900–1957Click to view larger

Figure 1. Map of the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Drawn by Rosalind Caldecott for K. D. D. Henderson’s Set Under Authority: Being a Portrait of the Life of the British District Officer in the Sudan under the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, 1898–1955 (Castle Cary: Castle Cary Press, 1987), SAD 769/7/4-6 [MP].

Reproduced by permission of Durham University Library.

Sudanese society, which grew from circa 2 to 10 million people between 1899 and 1956, included Arabic-speaking Muslims (a majority in the North), non–Arabic-speaking Muslims (such as Fur, Zaghawa, and Masalit populations in Darfur and Beja populations in the East), as well as numerous linguistic and religious groups in the South. Those included Muslims, Christians, and adherents to various local religions. Among the dozens of languages used in Southern Sudan were Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Zande, Arabic local varieties, and English. What were educational issues, policies, and practices in a country as geographically, linguistically, and religiously diverse as Sudan in the Condominium era? This article maps out the various educational institutions that coexisted in colonial Sudan. It also traces the evolution of educational policy through a half century of British rule.

Institutionalized forms of education had existed in Sudan well before the 20th century. In the North, networks of Koranic schools (khalwa, pl. khalāwī in Sudanese Arabic) had developed since the Islamization of the region in the 13th and 14th centuries. Subject matters taught in these schools included Arabic reading and writing, simple arithmetic, the Quran, Koranic exegesis, and Islamic jurisprudence.2 In the 19th century, the Ottoman-Egyptian government of Sudan (1820–1881) expanded educational facilities by adding new khalāwī and opening a few elementary state schools. Italian Catholic and Prussian Protestant missions also established several schools in the main towns of Northern Sudan (Khartoum, El Obeid, Berber, Suakin).3 In the Mahdist period (1881–1898), missionary and state schools that were opened under the previous regime had to cease their activities. Khalāwī became once again the sole type of educational institution in Northern Sudan. By 1899, there may have been as many as 1,500 khalāwī providing literacy and Koranic learning for nearly 60,000 children.4 Information on education in precolonial Southern Sudan is very scarce. An elementary school was set up in Equatoria in the 1870s, catering mainly to sons of Egyptian officers posted in the province. A very limited number of local children may have attended the school. Christian missionaries went up the White Nile in the 1850s and 1860s and established small stations (Gondokoro, Holy Cross, Kaka). Yet harsh climatic conditions and hostile attitudes of local populations prevented them from opening schools.5

Politics of Educational Differentiation, 1900–1947

Educational institutions significantly expanded and diversified in the colonial period. But the situation was totally different in Northern and Southern Sudan. The British Sudan Government (SG) endorsed distinct educational policies in the two regions during most of the Condominium era. A process of educational homogenization started only in 1948, after the so-called Southern Policy—namely the practice of administrating separately the North and the South—had been given up.

A Government Dominated Educational System in the North

In the educational field, Northern Sudan was treated differently from other regions across British Africa. In colonial territories such as the Gold Coast or East Africa, British authorities adopted a laissez-faire philosophy, allowing educational matters to be taken up by Christian missions. By contrast, an active state educational policy was promoted in Northern Sudan from the early years of the Condominium. This was probably due to Sudan’s particular legal and political status. Indeed, the Condominium regime maintained a situation of ongoing Anglo-Egyptian rivalry, while offering the SG a broader field of action than that available to colonial administrations subordinated to the CO in London.6

In 1901 the director of education in Sudan, James Currie (1900–1914), defined the three primary aims of his department as follows: creating a “competent artisan class”; spreading education among the “masses of the people” in a way that would enable them to “understand the merest elements of the machinery of government, particularly with reference to the equable and impartial administration of justice”; and creating a “small native administrative class who [would] ultimately fill many minor government posts.”7 The SG set up new educational institutions to achieve these goals. To be sure, traditional khalāwī did not disappear from Northern Sudan; some of them even obtained state subsidies provided they put stronger emphasis on “secular” subjects such as Arabic literacy and arithmetic.8 The number of subsidized khalāwī grew from six in 1918 to 768 in 1930,9 reflecting the broader policy of indirect rule that was being implemented in Sudan at the time. But the government created a new model of elementary school (kuttāb) that was supposed to replace the existing khalāwī in the longer run. From the 1930s onward, the Department of Education harnessed its limited financial resources for expanding the government school system.

Elementary schools catered to boys aged 7–11, offering a four-year program taught in Arabic. The curriculum was made of three major subjects (Islamic religion, Arabic language, arithmetic) and seven minor ones (geography, history, hygiene, agriculture, veterinary science, object lessons, and handwork).10 From 1934, districts that lacked financial means to support elementary schools were provided with “sub-grade schools.” Although viewed as temporary forerunners of full elementary schools, these two-year schools often became a permanent feature of the Northern Sudanese educational landscape, competing with established khalāwī.11 As for post-elementary schools, some were established from the early years of the Condominium. Primary schools that had been opened at Suakin and Wadi Halfa in Ottoman-Egyptian times renewed their activities. Other primary schools were set up in Omdurman (1900), Khartoum (1901), Berber, and Wad Medani (1906). Primary schools were renamed “intermediate” schools in 1933. By that time, the ten major towns in Northern Sudan each had an intermediate school. Boys aged 11–15 who had graduated from elementary school and passed an entrance examination were allowed to follow the four-year intermediate curriculum. An academic (as opposed to vocational) type of program was offered that emphasized the study of the English language.12 Inaugurated in 1902 by Kitchener, the Gordon Memorial College (GMC) was Sudan’s single secondary school until the 1940s. The college, whose name honored the British officer and administrator who had been killed by Mahdist forces in Khartoum in 1885, owed its existence to private donors from the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Cape, India, Egypt, and the United States.13 GMC students followed a two-year general curriculum before specializing in teaching, administration, accounting, law, science, engineering, or trade.14 During the Second World War, the college evolved into an institution of higher learning, becoming the nucleus for the future University of Khartoum (established upon independence).

Access to public education in colonial Northern Sudan, however, was marked by high disparities between provinces (Khartoum concentrating most schools), gender (male pupils being three times more numerous than females),15 and educational level. Post-elementary education was in fact restricted to a tiny elite: by the time of independence (1956), elementary schools catered for 76,996 pupils, while intermediate schools counted only 4,675 pupils and secondary schools 1,700 pupils; some 722 students were then enrolled in higher education.16

Throughout the Condominium era, government schools coexisted with, sometimes rivalled, various types of non-government schools in Northern Sudan. Besides Egyptian schools controlled by the Egyptian government, various private institutions emerged as important sites of learning. These included missionary schools, community schools, and so-called people’s schools. Missionary schools were established by both Protestant groups (the Church Missionary Society and the American Presbyterian Mission) and Catholic missions (the Comboni Roman Catholic Mission) in Khartoum, Khartoum North, Omdurman, Port Sudan, Atbara, and Wad Medani. Subjected to SG regulations, they were inspected by the Department of Education from 1907 onward.17 Community schools were opened by and for the Coptic, Greek, and Armenian minorities living in Northern Sudan. As for people’s schools, also known as “native schools,” they started developing in 1927 through Sudanese local initiatives. Most of them belonged to the Ahlia educational network (a term derived from the Arabic word ahl meaning “people” or “population”). Along with the Ahfad network established by Sheikh Babikr Bedri (1860–1954), Ahlia schools laid out the foundations for an educational system that at once claimed to be based on indigenous tradition and modeled its curricula and organization upon the government system.18

Female education also expanded under Anglo-Egyptian rule, though very slowly. In the period 1899–1920, five elementary schools for girls were opened in Northern Sudan. None of them was located in Khartoum or Omdurman, as part of a deliberate policy that sought to avoid stirring popular opposition to the schooling of girls within Sudanese urban society.19 A girls’ elementary school was established in Omdurman only after a training college for female teachers had been opened in the town (1921). Yet historically the main impulse for the development of girls’ education in Northern Sudan was not the SG, but rather Christian missionaries and Sudanese private initiatives. Babikr Bedri, who organized classes for girls in his home in Rufaʿa (Blue Nile) as early as 1906, has been considered the father of girls’ education in Sudan until this day.20

Until the mid-1930s, government educational policy in Northern Sudan followed the directions outlined by Currie at the beginning of the 20th century. Financial resources allocated to education were particularly meager.21 In addition, colonial educators were faced with the difficult task of producing a small Sudanese elite that was qualified to work in the administration while remaining compliant with the regime. The classic colonial problem of educating the “natives” without subverting or emancipating them22 resonated strongly in Northern Sudan in the early 1930s. Talking to an inspector of education, a district commissioner expressed the idea in the following terms:

By all means let us have Sudanese technicians and office-wallahs for the necessary jobs –but let them be as few as possible, as they are at present– and don’t for God’s sake, put ideas of political power into their heads. I hear, by the way, that they teach them about the French Revolution in the Gordon College…23

The administrator also criticized Sudanese elementary teachers for seeking to “ape the European – desks, chairs, European clothes, an office job.” In his view, what was then called “native education” should be less academic and more adapted to the Sudanese local environment. The role of elementary teachers was to make pupils “better cultivators” and “give them a pride in their tribe.”24 The foundation of a teachers’ training college in Bakht er Ruda (White Nile, 200 km south of Khartoum) in 1934 marked a turning point in the history of Sudanese education. In less than two decades, the small college evolved into a fully fledged institute of education active not only in teacher training, but also in curricula design, textbook production, school inspection, and adult education programs. The reform of Sudanese elementary education, including the production of new curricula, teaching methods, and didactic materials, was one of Bakht er Ruda’s major achievements.25

Missionary Education and the Language Issue in the South

An entirely different educational policy was carried out in Southern Sudan. In the eyes of British colonial officials, the climatic, social, cultural, and “racial” features of the South made it more akin to British East Africa than to Northern Sudan. The laissez-faire philosophy that dominated educational matters in other regions of British Africa also prevailed in Southern Sudan. However, the history of education in colonial Southern Sudan is characterized by two distinct periods: from 1900 to 1926, educational affairs were left to Christian missionaries; from 1926 to 1948, the SG intervened more directly in education.26

During the first quarter of the 20th century, the SG sought to spend as little as possible in Sudan, especially in the South. What was at stake was less the type of education judged suitable for Southern Sudanese populations than the possibility and desirability of developing schools in a vast and multilingual area that hosted many tropical diseases and lacked means of communication. The government opted for tolerating rather than fostering education in the South.27 A number of Christian missions wished to open schools in Sudan. Insofar as their activity was highly restricted in the North for political reasons, they settled in the South according to spheres of influence as defined by Governor-General Francis R. Wingate (1899–1916). Italian Catholics established themselves in Bahr al-Ghazal Province, British Anglicans in Mongalla (later renamed Equatoria) province and in the southern area of Upper Nile province, and American Presbyterians in the central Upper Nile.28

Missionaries founded several types of educational institutions in the South: village schools (sometimes called “bush schools”), elementary schools, intermediate schools, and trade schools. Although curricula and teaching methods varied from one school to another, the medium of instruction was usually the local vernacular language in village schools and English in elementary and intermediate schools.29 Whereas Comboni missionaries favored manual and technical subjects, Anglican and Presbyterian missionaries insisted more on the literary skills of their pupils. Christian religious teaching was included in the curricula of all schools.30 Girls’ education was limited to village and elementary schools, which taught hygiene and “domestic sciences.”31

In the early 1920s, the SG started showing serious interest in educational issues in Southern Sudan. The idea of supporting mission schools through a grant-in-aid system, which would allow a certain measure of control over them, took shape between 1921 and 1925. It grew out of several reports and discussions: a note by Sigmar Hillelson, an official at the Department of Education who had toured Mongalla province; discussions by members of the Advisory Committee on Native Education in Tropical Africa (ACNETA, attached to the CO in London), which included Currie; and a memorandum by the chief inspector of Southern schools, Eric Hussey.32 State grants depended upon the fulfilling of two main conditions: first, subsidized mission schools had to follow a “definite programme agreed on through consultation” with the Department of Education and accept periodical inspection; second, the SG kept the right to oppose the opening of schools in “districts not ripe for education.”33 The grant-in-aid system was implemented from 1926 onward. The number of mission schools significantly expanded, evolving from twenty-two boys’ elementary schools in 1926 to thirty-three in 1932 and forty-five in 1948.34 The SG reinforced its control over educational matters through an ordinance on non-government schools (1927), which theoretically applied to the whole country. According to the ordinance, the opening of any school required prior approval by the (British) governor-general of Sudan. No teacher would be allowed to teach without the approval of the director of education. The latter had the right to inspect all schools. Finally, parents had to be informed by the school authorities that religious instruction would be given to their children unless they had requested exemption from attendance.35

The medium of instruction in Southern Sudanese schools was a highly problematic issue, which was shaped by both practical constraints and ideological struggles. Linguistic choices were incremental in implementing the policy of separation between Northern and Southern Sudan. The governor-general John Maffey (1926–1933) realized how widespread the use of Arabic was in the South. In 1927, he even called into question the relevance of existing measures that aimed at suppressing the Arabic language in Southern Sudan.36 Yet the Rejaf Conference, which was organized one year later, adopted a different linguistic agenda. The director of education (John G. Mathew, 1927–1931) met with missionary representatives and education officials from Sudan, Uganda, and the Belgian Congo. The professor Diedrich H. Westermann, who was then the director of the International Institute of African Languages and Cultures,37 contributed his scientific expertise to the discussion. The aims of the Rejaf Conference were to compile a list of languages in use in Southern Sudan, choose some of them as mediums of instruction, work out a unified spelling system, and establish guidelines for the production of schoolbooks.38 Among the many Southern Sudanese languages, six were identified and selected for school use: Dinka, Bari, Nuer, Lotuka, Shilluk, and Zande. Hence, in spite of logistical difficulties (lack of qualified teaching staff and textbooks), the multilingual option was given preference over the one-language alternative, be it Arabic or English. This decision ensued not only from a philosophy of “adapted” education, but also from the SG general policy that sought to separate the “African” and “animist” South from the Muslim, Arabic-speaking North. Such a position is clearly reflected by the way in which conference participants attempted to accommodate Southern Sudanese realities. Although the conference report recognized that using Arabic could be necessary in certain areas, it called for the use of Roman script; the Arabic alphabet had to be avoided at all costs.39 In spite of divergences on the orthographic system best suited for writing Southern Sudanese languages, missionaries of various nationalities produced several grammar books and vocabularies between 1928 and 1934.40

Until the Southern Policy was given up (1947), the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan was thus characterized by clearly differentiated educational policies in the North and the South. Differences pertained to the agents of schooling (the state, missionary, and local personalities in the North, missionaries in the South) and to the medium of instruction (Arabic and English in the North, vernacular languages, English, and Arabic in Roman script in the South). But it also pertained to the quantitative expansion of the educational system. Disparities between the two regions were blatant. The number of boys enrolled in elementary schools in 1948 perfectly exemplifies such disparity:

Table 1. Number of pupils in boys’ elementary schools, Sudan, 1948.41



Government schools



Non government schools






*North: missionary, Egyptian, community and private schools / South: missionary schools.

The number of Northern Sudanese elementary pupils was more than five times greater than the number of Southern Sudanese pupils, although the Northern total population was only three times greater than the Southern population. The relation between the implication of government versus other agents in educational matters was opposite in the two regions. Whereas in the North government schools represented 90% of the elementary school system, such schools constituted less than 7% of the Southern school system in 1948.42

Educational Expansion, Unification, and Nationalization, 1947–1957

In the last colonial decade, the Sudanese educational field underwent deep transformations through a triple process of expansion, unification, and nationalization. By 1957, the great majority of schools had moved under the control of the Ministry of Education of the newly independent country.

Political Pressure in Sudan and the Nile Valley

After the Second World War, the number of schools in Northern and Southern Sudan rapidly increased. This quantitative expansion, which affected all educational levels, was primarily due to political factors. Firstly, the social demand for more schooling grew louder among Northern Sudanese educated circles. Since the 1930s, the call for educational expansion and reform had repeatedly appeared in the Arabic press of Khartoum. In 1934, Muhammad Ahmad Mahjub, who would become a pro-independence politician and later Sudan’s minister of foreign affairs (1956–1958) and prime minister (1965–1966 and 1967–1969), enjoined the SG to revise the educational aims and curricula of the GMC along the model of British secondary schools.43 A few months later, an editorial in the same magazine was unambiguously titled “Give Us Education (ʿallimūnā).”44 The following excerpts show how closely connected Northern Sudanese educational demands and political claims were:

It is natural that a country like ours, gives great weight and consideration to education in such a stage, both in quality and quantity. First, because we need a high-brow class of youngmen who will give the country its initial start, we need young educated men with intrinsic initiative power; and second, becuase [sic] a greater number of educated men is wanted for handling the affairs of the country in an intelligent manner. (…)

Education was initiated with a view of training some men to become officers and civil servants in the Government offices. Time rolled by and the government offices were saturated. This being the case, should not the policy of education take another direction? Should not the curriculum be developed to produce men for the world and not with local limitations? (…) Education for education should be given to us at this stage. (…) The minds of the people are fit for understanding and receiving any kind of education whether literary or scientific, technical or manual. (…) It is time that the Sudani might have better chances in the Government of his country, and the only way for the realisation of those chances is higher education. (…) The Government has embarked on giving us education, but does not seem to aim at any further steps. The danger in this lies in the fact that once education is started in a country it must be continued and developed; failing this the people will cry and ask for more education, because it becomes to them as essential as food, water and light. (…) “Give us education and leave us alone” is our slogan.45

In 1937, another article published in Al-Fajr (“dawn”) suggested expanding the number of students admitted to the GMC, sending Sudanese students to Egyptian universities and obtaining British recognition of Sudanese post-secondary certificates.46 In 1939, an editorial in (neo-Mahdist) Al-Nīl newspaper demanded the opening of new secondary schools to absorb the ever-growing number of pupils that were not admitted to the GMC.47 At the same time, the Sudan Schools Graduates’ Congress sent a Note on Education to Civil Secretary James A. Gillan (1934–1939). Emphasizing Sudanese educational backwardness in relation to neighboring countries, the graduates exhorted the SG to undertake reforms at all school levels. Universal schooling for all boys and the expansion of girls’ education were presented as two major goals toward which the action of the government should be directed.48

Secondly, the conclusion of an Anglo-Egyptian treaty in 1936 prompted the SG to develop the educational system so as to increase the number of Sudanese fitted for administrative posts. Indeed, the treaty re-allowed the appointment of Egyptian civil servants in Sudan if qualified Sudanese were not available, a measure that had been ineffective since the murder of Sudan’s (British) governor-general Lee Stack in Cairo in 1924. Reluctant to encourage the presence of Egyptians who may “contaminate” the Sudanese with nationalist ideas, the British authorities sought to anticipate what they perceived as a political threat.49

The Sudanese educational system was also impacted by the report of the De La Warr Commission (1937). Initially the commission had been mandated to investigate higher education in British East Africa. It was nevertheless invited to Sudan in order to report upon the GMC curricula, staff, and organization, Bakht er Ruda teacher-training college, as well as elementary and intermediate schools. The report was highly critical of the Sudanese educational system and urged the SG to invest more seriously in education. New schools needed to be opened; school libraries required more books and materials.50

Another stimulating factor for education was the gradual replacement of the “native administration” system with institutions of “local government,” which demanded a growing number of educated Sudanese. Through the 1937 local government ordinances for municipalities, townships, and rural areas, the SG started transforming the politics of tribalism into a notion of territorial representativity that was based on meritocracy rather than hereditary power.51 The creation of the Advisory Council for the Northern Sudan (1944) was part of this political shift toward more inclusive and more democratic institutions.

Finally, political dynamics in postwar Sudan and the broader Nile Valley directly contributed to the quantitative expansion of the Sudanese educational system. Egyptian schooling in Sudan, which since the late 1930s had been a source of anxiety for British officials of the Department of Education, seriously competed with government schools, especially at the secondary level.52 Moreover, the Egyptian position on Sudan after the war convinced the British about the necessity of gaining Sudanese support against the realization of the “unity of the Nile Valley” (a political union between Sudan and Egypt), which was actively promoted by Egyptian intellectuals and politicians and part of the Sudanese intelligentsia. From 1946, political pressure led the SG to accelerate the pace of “Sudanization,” that is, the replacement of British officials with Sudanese civil servants. In this context, the British needed to open new schools in order to counter Egyptian schools and educate a greater number of Sudanese that would be qualified for administrative posts.

Educational expansion was planned and rationalized through several five-year and ten-year plans covering both Northern and Southern Sudan.53 The number of Sudanese pupils at all educational levels quickly grew during the last colonial decade. The development of state elementary schooling, for instance, is salient in the period 1946–1956:

Education in Colonial Sudan, 1900–1957Click to view larger

Figure 2. Number of pupils in government elementary schools, Sudan, 1922–1956. 1940 and 1942: missing data.54

Unifying Sudan, Arabizing the South

The unification of the Northern and Southern educational systems began after the SG decided to administratively “reunite”55 the two regions in 1947. Unification had been called for by the Northern Sudanese intelligentsia since the 1930s. The 1939 Note on Education had articulated proposals to achieve this end. According to Sudanese school graduates, a “common spirit (…) should in the first place predominate education in all its stages and also its theoretical side (…) It is therefore considered necessary that the co-ordination of policy to suit the needs of various regions be vested in the General Education Centre in Khartoum.”56 The fact that education in the Southern Sudan had been left to missions accounted for the “backwardness” and the “primitive and inhuman condition” in which the “underfed” and ignorant Southern tribes still lived.57 In the eyes of Northern graduates, the solution to the Southern problem was to open new schools on the lines of those in the North and use Arabic as a lingua franca. The improvement of socioeconomic conditions in the South was seen as possible only if access to the region was unconditionally provided to Northern Sudanese traders, cultivators, and teachers.58 In 1942, the Graduates Congress demanded the cancellation of state subsidies to missionary schools and the unification of school curricula in Northern and Southern Sudan.59 The Sudan Administration Conference that was convened in Khartoum in 1946–1947 to discuss greater Sudanese participation in the government of the country also advocated educational unification. The British and Northern Sudanese participants to the conference agreed that educational policies had to be homogenized and the Arabic language taught in Southern schools.60

In practice, the task of unifying the two school systems lay with the new Ministry of Education established in 1948. ʿAbd al-Raḥman ʿAlī Ṭaha, who was the first Sudanese to be appointed minister of education (1948–1953), became responsible for all educational matters that had previously been handled by the governor-general and the director of education (both of them British).61 After a six-week tour in the South in the summer of 1949, ʿAlī Ṭaha designed a five-year plan that included the introduction of the Arabic language in Southern schools and the unification of curricula and educational systems in the North and South. Unification meant the alignment of Southern education on the Northern school system: the plan indeed stated that many schoolbooks produced by Bakht er Ruda Institute of Education were suitable for Southern Sudan, although adaptations would sometimes be required and entirely new books would be produced in other cases.62 A year after independence, the Ministry of Education conceived educational unification as the removal of differences within the school system of the three Southern provinces and the assimilation of the Southern system into the Northern one. In the view of Northern Sudanese educators, two measures would accelerate the process: the spread of the Arabic language in the South and the establishment of schools along the Northern model.63

The unification process was completed by the nationalization of missionary and private schools. In 1954, the Ministry of Education led by Mīrghanī Ḥamza took charge of the teacher-training colleges at Mundiri (Equatoria) and Bussere (Bahr al-Ghazal), which had hitherto been supervised by Christian missions. His successor ʿAlī ʿAbd al-Raḥman (1955–1956) stated that government curricula would be gradually imposed in all missionary schools.64 In fact the next minister of education, Ziyāda ʿUthmān Arbāb (1956–1962), launched an operation that resulted in the nationalization of almost all missionary schools and the majority of Ahlia schools in less than six months. Coming back from a trip in the South (winter 1956–1957), Arbāb announced the approaching nationalization of missionary schools, affirming that all parties had been consulted.65 On February 13, 1957, he met with missionary representatives in Khartoum and informed them that village schools, elementary schools, and elementary teacher-training colleges in the South would be administrated by the government as from April 1, 1957. Girls’ elementary schools were momentarily not affected by this policy because of the lack of qualified Sudanese female teachers.66 Whereas Protestant missions accepted the nationalization policy, Catholic missionaries opposed it, initiating discussions with the Ministry of Education. They obtained a number of concessions that were not respected afterward. These concessions included the right of the Catholic Church to prescribe the curricula and books used for religious instruction, the appointment of a majority of Catholic teachers, and the permission to establish private schools after three or four years.67 On June 18, 1957, Arbāb held a speech at the parliament, in which he promised the Southern Sudanese careers in the administration of education. Yet like the Sudanization of the administration three years earlier, through which only six out of 800 posts had gone to Southerners, the Sudanization of Southern education actually meant Northern control. Northerners already occupied most key positions in the administration of Sudanese education (assistant director of education, province education officers); they replaced missionaries as heads of elementary schools in the South.68 On the ground, the nationalization of boys’ elementary schools varied from one area to another. The process unfolded at a much faster pace in the Upper Nile than in Equatoria, a province that was distant from Khartoum and in which missionaries had struck solid roots.69 As for private “people’s” schools, most of them were also nationalized in 1957. The few that remained independent continued benefitting from state subsidies in subsequent years.70

Discussion of the Literature

The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan in general has drawn little attention among historians of Africa and scholars of imperialism. This is largely due to the country’s location as an in-between space between the Arabic-speaking Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa, but also to its anomalous status as a Condominium within the British Empire. That Sudan was never the home of any large settler community of European origins has also contributed to the country’s relative marginality in historical scholarship. Yet educational issues in colonial Sudan have not been totally neglected. Since the 1960s, a number of historians have conducted research on various aspects of the field. The greater part of this literature is devoted to the institutional, administrative, and statistical dimensions of the school system, relating them to the political history of the country. Two books authored by Sudanese scholars in the 1960s and 1970s remain reference works to this day for students of Sudanese education in colonial times. One was written in English by Mohamed O. Beshir, the other in Arabic by Nāsir al-Sayyid.71 Both of them provide readers with a relatively detailed overview of British educational policies in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, as well as the development of government and missionary school systems in the North and the South. Beshir’s book includes textual and statistical appendixes of particular interest.

Non-government education has been dealt with in several important works. Missionary education, especially, has been examined in its various manifestations both in Southern and Northern Sudan.72 Sudanese private school networks emerging in the North in the late 1920s have been studied by Northern Sudanese historians.73 Girls’ education in its government and missionary variations has been at the core of Lilian P. Sanderson’s research for thirty years. Her pioneer scholarship covers both Northern and Southern Sudan.74 Secondary schooling, which was developed by the British administration early in the North but much later in the South (1948), has been studied in a well-documented master’s thesis authored by a Sudanese student at the University of London.75 In addition, Heather Sharkey’s insightful research on the GMC has brought to light the socializing and acculturating functions of the college, which was a formative place for many among the Northern Sudanese intellectuals, civil servants, and politicians who took over the reins of their country upon decolonization.76 The history of Sudanese higher education has also been discussed since the 1970s.77

The greater part of this literature, however, focuses on the educational policies endorsed by British colonizers or Christian missionaries, privileging a broad perspective that sometimes fails to distinguish between discourses and implementation on the ground. The history of school disciplines and pedagogical practices in the various educational institutions of colonial Sudan still needs to be written. Liza Sandell’s book on English as a school subject, Sharkey’s work on the GMC, and my research on history teaching in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan break new ground in this direction.78 Innovative approaches to the study of education in colonial Sudan would include, most interestingly, microhistories linking individual trajectories of teachers, pupils, and inspectors to broader social, political, and cultural issues; research that challenges established, politically based periodizations79; studies that question Sudan’s supposed “exceptionalism” by connecting the Sudanese experience with the worlds of which Sudan was historically or is still an integral part (be it the Nile Valley, the Sahel, the Red Sea, the British Empire, or other spaces); and scholarship using oral history approaches as a heuristic tool for enquiring into the fascinating and multifarious universe of education in colonial Sudan.

Primary Sources

Primary sources for the study of education in colonial Sudan are in two main languages, English and Arabic. Italian is also useful for scholars interested in the history of the Roman Catholic Mission in Sudan. Insofar as we are concerned with the first half of the 20th century, sources can be divided into two broad categories: archival material and published documents.80

The main types of available archival sources include correspondences between various individuals involved in Sudanese education in the Condominium era (administrators, educators, teachers, inspectors, missionaries), memoranda by colonial officials, inspection reports, school syllabi, draft handbooks, school logbooks, teachers’ notes and to a lesser extent pupils’ exercise books, examination documents, and job applications, as well as draft articles, conference notes, and personal memoirs produced by educators and administrators. This primary material is scattered among several important archives in the United Kingdom, Sudan, Egypt, and Italy. The Sudan Archive at the University of Durham Library hosts wealthy collections of relevant sources that are well catalogued and easily accessible. With regards to government education in colonial Sudan (including the GMC and the post-1956 University of Khartoum), the most relevant collections are those of J. A. Bright, H. B. Bullen, H. Corlass, C. W. M. Cox, J. W. Crowfoot, J. A. Haywood, R. A. Hodgkin, P. M. Holt, L. M. P. Sanderson, G. N Sanderson, N. R. Udal, C. W. Williams, and I. R. Williams. The I. M. Beasley and E. Jackson collections are especially rich for investigating girls’ education. Missionary education, in particular the activities of the Church Missionary Society in Sudan, can be studied through the following collections: R. W. and O. A. Gray, L. Gwynne, R. Hassan, R. C. S. MacGill, G. Martin, R. C. Stevenson, and Unity High School.

In Sudan, the National Records Office (NRO) in Khartoum also hosts relevant material, although access to documents remains arbitrary and uncertain. Pertinent collections include—but are not limited to—al-tarbiya wa-l-taʿlīm (“education and teaching”) and CIVSEC 1/17. As the direct successor of Sudan’s colonial Institute of Education, the National Center for Curriculum and Educational Research (NCCER) in Bakht er Ruda detains very interesting and rare historical materials. These are kept at the bayt al-turāth (“house of heritage”) under the supervision of Dr. ʿUthmān A. al-Amīn, who has himself produced a book on the history of Bakht er Ruda Institute.81 The Khartoum Comboni Provincial Archive in Khartoum North hosts archival and published documents on Comboni Catholic schools in Sudan. In South Sudan, a new national archive is currently being built at Juba with Norwegian support. South Sudanese official records, which include documents from the colonial era up to the 1980s, suffered serious damage during the 1983–2005 Sudanese civil war. The national archive of South Sudan will certainly be of interest for scholars of education in colonial Sudan once documents are processed and catalogued. In Egypt, the Egyptian National Library and Archives, as well as the Bibliotheca Alexandrina, may host relevant collections of materials for researching Egyptian education in colonial Sudan.

Several other important archives are located in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the United States, including the British National Archives in Kew (see for instance the FO141 collection) and various missionary archives: the Church Missionary Society Archives at the University of Birmingham Library, the Archive of the Sudan United Mission at the University of Edinburgh, the Comboni Archives in Rome, and the papers of the American Presbyterian Mission in Sudan, which are kept by the Presbyterian Historical Society in Philadelphia.

Published primary sources relating to educational issues in colonial Sudan should not be neglected, in particular when dealing with the second half of the Condominium. These sources include publications by the Sudan Department/Ministry of Education (annual reports, handbooks, syllabi); schoolbooks and teaching materials such as maps, drawings, and pictures; school bulletins; reading materials produced by the Bureau of Publications in Khartoum and Juba (primers, youth magazines); books and articles by leading colonial educators such as Vincent L. Griffiths and Robin A. Hodgkin; reports on education by external commissions; Sudanese Arabic newspapers; and British colonial journals (especially Oversea Education). Such documents can be found at the NCCER, the NRO, the Sudan Library (University of Khartoum), Durham University Library, and the British Library in London. Lastly, oral sources should also be considered if one is researching the late colonial period. Sudanese, British, Egyptians, and individuals of other nationalities who have lived in Sudan in the 1940s and 1950s are ageing, but can still be invaluable sources for tracing human experiences of educational processes in an era of swift political, social, and cultural change.

Further Reading

Abu Bakr, Yusuf El Kh. “Language and Education in the Southern Sudan.” In Directions in Sudanese Linguistics and Folklore. Edited by Sayyid H. Hurreiz and Herman Bell, 13–18. Khartoum: Khartoum University Press, 1975.Find this resource:

Al-Amīn, ʿUthmān A. Bakht al-Ruḍā, sittat ʿuqūd fī masīrat al-taʿlīm: 1934/1935–1994/1995. Khartoum: Maṭbaʿat jāmiʿat al-Kharṭum, 2007.Find this resource:

ʿAlī Ṭaha, Fadwa ʿA. al-R. ʿAbd al-Raḥman ʿAlī Ṭaha 1901-1969 bayna al-taʿlīm wa-l-siyāsa wa-Arbajī. Khartoum: Dār jāmiʿat al-Kharṭūm li-l-nashr, 2004.Find this resource:

Al-Sayyid Nāṣir. Taʾrīkh al-siyāsa wa-l-taʿlīm fī al-Sūdān. Khartoum: Dār jāmiʿat al-Kharṭūm li-l-nashr, 1990.Find this resource:

Bagchi, Barnita, Eckhardt Fuchs, and Kate Rousmaniere, eds. Connecting Histories of Education: Transnational and Cross-cultural Exchanges in (Post-)colonial Education. New York: Berghahn Books, 2014.Find this resource:

Beshir, Mohamed O. Educational Development in the Sudan 1898–1956. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969.Find this resource:

El Gizouli, Subki M. Higher Education in the Sudan, 1898–1966. Khartoum: Khartoum University Press, 1999.Find this resource:

Goodman, Joyce et al. “Introduction: ‘Empires Overseas’ and ‘Empires at Home’: Postcolonial and Transnational Perspectives on Social Change in the History of Education.” Paedagogical Historica 45.6 (2009): 695–706.Find this resource:

Griffiths, Vincent L. Teacher-Centred: A Quality in Sudan Primary Education, 1930–1970. London: Longman, 1975.Find this resource:

Hodgkin, Robin A. “The Reform of the Sudan’s Primary Education: Some Historical Perspective.” In The Condominium Remembered: Proceedings of the Durham Sudan Historical Records Conference, 1982. Vol. 2: The Transformation of the Old Order in the Sudan. Edited by Deborah Lavin, 157–165. Durham: Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, University of Durham, 1993.Find this resource:

Ibrāhīm, Yaḥya M. Taʾrīkh al-taʿlīm al-dīnī fī al-Sūdān. Beirut: Dār al-jīl, 1987.Find this resource:

Novoa, Antonio. “On History, History of Education, and History of Colonial Education.” In The Colonial Experience in Education: Historical Issues and Perspectives. Edited by Antonio Novoa and Marc Depaepe, 23–61. Gent: Centrum voor Studie van de Historische Pedagogie, 1995.Find this resource:

Osman, Mohammed K. “The Rise and Decline of the People’s (Ahlia) Education in the Northern Sudan (1927–1957).” Paedagogica Historica 19.2 (1979): 355–371.Find this resource:

Sandell, Liza. English Language in Sudan: A History of its Teaching and Politics. London: Ithaca Press, 1982.Find this resource:

Sanderson, Lilian P. “Educational Development and Administrative Control in the Nuba Mountains Region of the Sudan.” Journal of African History 4.2 (1963): 233–247.Find this resource:

Sanderson, Lilian P. “Girls’ Education in the Northern Sudan (1898-1956).” In Conflict and Harmony in Education in Tropical Africa. Edited by Godfrey N. Brown and Mervyn Hiskett, 229–246. London: George Allen & Unwin, 1975.Find this resource:

Sanderson, Lilian P. “Education in the Southern Sudan: The Impact of Government-Missionary-Southern Sudanese Relationships upon the Development of Education during the Condominium Period, 1898–1956.” African Affairs 79 (1980): 157–169.Find this resource:

Sanderson, Lilian P.,and George N. Education, Religion and Politics in Southern Sudan: 1899–1964. London: Ithaca Press and Khartoum: Khartoum University Press, 1981.Find this resource:

Seri-Hersch, Iris. “Towards Social Progress and Post-imperial Modernity? Colonial Politics of Literacy in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 1946–1956.” History of Education 40.3 (2011): 333–356.Find this resource:

Seri-Hersch, Iris. “Sudan and the British Empire in the Era of Colonial Dismantlement (1946–1956): History Teaching in Comparative Perspective.” In The Road to the Two Sudans. Edited by Souad T. Ali et al., 177–219. New Castle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014.Find this resource:

Seri-Hersch, Iris. Enseigner l’histoire à l’heure de l’ébranlement colonial: récits historiques, pédagogie et politique dans le Soudan anglo-égyptien et l’empire britannique (1943–1960). Paris: Karthala, 2017.Find this resource:

Seri-Hersch, Iris. “Collaborating on Unequal Terms: Cross-Cultural Cooperation and Educational Work in Colonial Sudan, 1934–1956.” In Cooperation and Empire: Local Realities of Global Processes. Edited by Tanja Bührer et al., chap. 11. Oxford: Berghahn, 2017.Find this resource:

Sharkey, Heather J. Living with Colonialism: Nationalism and Culture in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003.Find this resource:

Whitehead, Clive. “The Historiography of British Imperial Education Policy, Part II: Africa and the Rest of the Colonial Empire.” History of Education 34.4 (2005): 441–454.Find this resource:


(1.) Here the term “Sudan” encompasses the territories of both post-2011 Sudan and South Sudan.

(2.) On the history of Sudanese khalāwī see Yaḥya M. Ibrāhīm, Taʾrīkh al-taʿlīm al-dīnī fī al-Sūdān (Beirut: Dār al-jīl, 1987) and al-Muʿtasim A. al-Ḥājj, Al-khalāwī fī al-Sūdān: nuẓumuhā wa-rusūmuhā ḥattā nihāyat al-qarn al-tāsiʿ ʿashar (Omdurman: Markaz Muḥammad ʿUmar Bashīr li-l-dirāsāt al-sūdāniyya, 2005).

(3.) Mohamed O. Beshir, Educational Development in the Sudan 1898–1956 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), 14–21; and Nāṣir al-Sayyid, Taʾrīkh al-siyāsa wa-l-taʿlīm fī al-Sūdān (Khartoum: Dār jāmiʿat al-Kharṭūm li-l-nashr, 1990), 11–24.

(4.) Mohammed K. Osman, “The Rise and Decline of the People’s (Ahlia) Education in the Northern Sudan (1927–1957),” Paedagogica Historica 19.2 (1979): 356.

(5.) Beshir, Educational Development, 16, 19.

(6.) Ibid., 25; and James Currie, “The Educational Experiment in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 1900–1993. Part I,” Journal of the Royal African Society 33.133 (1934): 361.

(7.) Gordon Memorial College Annual Report and Accounts, 1901, 9, quoted in Beshir, Educational Development, 29.

(8.) Beshir, Educational Development, 30.

(9.) Ibid., 60. In the 1930s the adequate policy to adopt toward khalāwī was a hotly debated topic among British colonial officials.

(10.) Province Education Officers Handbook, Appendix 2, 193[?], CIVSEC 1/17/1/1, National Records Office, Khartoum, Sudan.

(11.) Beshir, Educational Development, 133.

(12.) R. K. Winter, “Education in the Sudan,” in The Anglo-Egyptian Sudan from Within, ed. John Almeric de Courcy Hamilton (London: Faber & Faber, 1935), 346. Technical education was developed separately and at a much slower rate than the mainstream, academically oriented, government schools.

(13.) Beshir, Educational Development, 38–39.

(14.) Winter, “Education in the Sudan,” 347. Islamic post-khalwa education could be pursued at Omdurman mosque, which was financially supported and controlled by the SG.

(15.) Figures covering the 1936–1956 period may be found in Beshir, Educational Development, 208, and Education Department, Annual Report (Khartoum: McCorquodale, 1948), 38–45.

(16.) Beshir, Educational Development, 208. The Sudanese population amounted to ten million people in 1956.

(17.) Ibid., 34, 49. British authorities in Khartoum sought to limit Christian missionary activity in the North so as to avoid antagonizing the predominantly Muslim Northern Sudanese.

(18.) Yusuf F. Hasan, “Interaction between Traditional and Western Education in the Sudan: An Attempt towards a Synthesis,” in Conflict and Harmony in Education in Tropical Africa, eds. Godfrey N. Brown and Mervyn Hiskett (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1975), 125; and Osman, “The Rise and Decline of the People’s (Ahlia) Education,” 358, 362.

(19.) Lilian P. Sanderson, “The Development of Girls’ Education in the Northern Sudan, 1898–1960,” Paedagogica Historica 8.1 (1968): 125. More generally, the Northern Sudanese were not eager to send their children to government schools in the first years of the Condominium. Established by a foreign government, these schools were perceived as a vehicle for secularization and cultural alienation. Moreover, they deprived homes of an important labor force, insofar as children usually participated in their family’s economic activities: Vincent L. Griffiths, An Experiment in Education: An Account of the Attempts to Improve the Lower Stages of Boys’ Education in the Moslem Anglo-Egyptian Sudan, 1930–1950 (London: Longman, 1953), 5, 145; Beshir, Educational Development, 35; Hasan, “Interaction between Traditional and Western Education,” 130.

(20.) Sanderson, “The Development of Girls’ Education,” 123. The first intermediate and secondary schools for girls were opened by the APM and the CMS in the 1920s. Government intermediate schools for girls were established only from 1939 onward.

(21.) Over the period 1899–1946, government spending on education never outweighed 4% of the SG’s total annual expenditure: Beshir, Educational Development, 195–196.

(22.) See for instance James A. Mangan, “Ethics and Ethnocentricity: Imperial Education in British Tropical Africa,” in Sport in Africa: Essays in Social History, eds. William J. Baker and J. A. Mangan (New York: Africana Publishing Company, 1987), 141–144; Malika Belkaïd, “Assimilation émancipatrice, émancipation assimilatrice ?,” in The Colonial Experience in Education: Historical Issues and Perspectives, eds. Antonio Novoa and Marc Depaepe (Gent: Centrum voor Studie van de Historische Pedagogie, 1995), 244–246; Marc Depaepe et al., Manuels et chansons scolaires au Congo belge (Louvain: Presses universitaires de Louvain, 2003), 11–13; and Aïssa Kadri, “Histoire du système d’enseignement colonial en Algérie,” in La France et l’Algérie: leçons d’histoire: De l’école en situation coloniale à l’enseignement du fait colonial, eds. Frédéric Abécassis et al. (Lyon: INRP and Université de Lyon, 2007), 20–21.

(23.) Griffiths, An Experiment in Education, 6. The suffix wallah comes from Hindi. It refers to the activity, geographical origin, or dress of a person.

(24.) Ibid., 5–6. District officials had cut the legs off the desk “so that the children could sit on the floor as their fathers d[id].” Teachers had to wear “sheikhs’ robes.” On the interwar debates about “adapted” education as opposed to Western-inspired education for autochthonous populations in British Africa, see Peter Kallaway, “Welfare and Education in British Colonial Africa and South Africa during the 1930s and 1940s,” Paedagogica Historica 41.3 (2005): 337–356; and Aaron Windel, “British Colonial Education in Africa: Policy and Practice in the Era of Trusteeship,” History Compass 7.1 (2009): 1–21.

(25.) On Bakht er Ruda reforms, see Iris Seri-Hersch, Enseigner l’histoire à l’heure de l’ébranlement colonial: récits historiques, pédagogie et politique dans le Soudan anglo-égyptien et l’empire britannique (1943–1960) (Paris: Karthala, 2017), chap. 2.

(26.) L. P. Sanderson, “Educational Development in the Southern Sudan, 1900–1948,” Sudan Notes and Records 43 (1962): 105.

(27.) Ibid.; Liza Sandell, English Language in Sudan: A History of Its Teaching and Politics (London: Ithaca Press, 1982), 49–50.

(28.) Beshir M. Said, The Sudan: Crossroads of Africa (London: The Bodley Head, 1965), 166–168. See a map of the “sphere system,” in Education, Religion and Politics in Southern Sudan: 1899–1964, eds. Lilian P. Sanderson and George N. Sanderson (London: Ithaca Press, 1981), Map 2.

(29.) Sanderson, “Educational Development,” 108. There existed no secondary education facility in Southern Sudan until the SG opened a secondary school at Rumbek, Bahr al-Ghazal, in 1948.

(30.) Beshir, Educational Development, 51–52.

(31.) Sanderson, “Educational Development,” 108. Domestic sciences usually referred to cooking, sewing, and cleaning, sometimes including child rearing.

(32.) Ibid., 110, 112; and Robert O. Collins, Shadows in the Grass: Britain in the Southern Sudan, 1918–1956 (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1983), 207. Hussey was later appointed as Director of Education in Uganda (1925–1929) and then in Nigeria (1929–1936).

(33.) Beshir, Educational Development, 67.

(34.) Sanderson, “Educational Development,” 107, 114–115.

(35.) Beshir, Educational Development, 87–88. This measure targeted mission schools in Northern rather than Southern Sudan.

(36.) Ushari A. Mahmud, Arabic in the Southern Sudan: History and Spread of a Pidgin Creole (Khartoum: FAL, 1983), 48.

(37.) Founded in London in 1926, the institute initiated one of the first academic journals devoted to African studies (Africa). See Lucy Mair, “Anthropology and Colonial Policy,” African Affairs 74.295 (1975): 193.

(38.) Sanderson, “Educational Development,” 113–114.

(39.) Ibid., 114; Beshir, Educational Development, 71. The idea of using Arabic in Roman script as a medium of instruction, in particular in the Arabic-speaking area of Wau (Bahr al-Ghazal), had already been formulated by Director of Education John W. Crowfoot (1914–1926). He had advocated the appointment of Syrian (and preferably Christian) teachers to this end: Al-Sayyid, Taʾrīkh al-siyāsa wa-l-taʿlīm, 42. On the history of linguistic and alphabetical choices in colonial and postcolonial Sudan, see Ashraf Abdelhay, Al-Amin Abu Manga, and Catherine Miller, “Language Policy and Planning in Sudan: From Local Vernaculars to National Languages,” in Multidimensional Change in the Republic of Sudan (1989–2011): Reshaping Livelihoods, Conflicts, and Identities, eds. Barbara Casciarri, Munzoul Assal, and François Ireton (Oxford: Berghahn, 2015), 263–280.

(40.) Beshir, Educational Development, 71.

(41.) The first government elementary school of Southern Sudan was established at Tonj in ca. 1945: Ina Beasley, “Account of a Tour of Inspection of Schools in Equatoria,” April 8, 1946, SAD 657/7/30–54, Sudan Archive [SA], Durham University Library, U.K.; and Martin W. Daly, Imperial Sudan: The Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, 1934–1956 (Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 1991), 203.

(42.) Muḥammad Aḥmad Maḥjūb, “Fī al-taʿlīm,” Al-Fajr 1.11 (November 1, 1934): 471–477.

(43.) Both an Arabic and an English version of the same text were published in Al-Fajr 1.22 (June 16, 1935): 1020–1022, 1065–1066. The targeted audience thus included Arabic-speaking literate Sudanese and British officials.

(44.) Ibid., 1065–1066.

(45.) Fūrawī, “Fī al-taʿlīm: baʿḍa iqtirāḥāt ʿamaliyya,” Al-Fajr 3.4 (April 16, 1937): 101–104.

(46.) Al-Nīl, July 22, 1939, quoted by Al-Sayyid, Taʾrīkh al-siyāsa wa-l-taʿlīm, 166.

(47.) “Graduates Congress Note on Education,” in Beshir, Educational Development, 241–242, 248–249.

(48.) Al-Sayyid, Taʾrīkh al-siyāsa wa-l-taʿlīm, 151; Collins, Shadows in the Grass, 234; and Anne-Claire De Gayffier-Bonneville, “La rivalité anglo-égyptienne au Soudan: les enjeux de la décolonisation,” Relations internationales 133.1 (2008): 75.

(49.) Beshir, Educational Development, 112.

(50.) Ibid., 163; and Muddathir Abd al-Rahim, Imperialism and Nationalism in the Sudan: A Study in Constitutional and Political Development, 1899–1956 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1969), 203–211.

(51.) Al-Sayyid, Taʾrīkh al-siyāsa wa-l-taʿlīm, 165, 168–172. Initially closed to Sudanese pupils, Egyptian schools started accepting them in 1932. The Farouk Egyptian secondary school was established in Khartoum in 1944.

(52.) Charles W. Williams, “Note by the Director of Education on the Government Plan for Educational Development in the Northern Sudan for the Next Ten Years,” February 16, 1946, SAD 658/6/1-12, SA; “Proposals for the Expansion and Improvement of the Educational System in the Sudan (1947–1956),” May 31, 1946, SAD 663/1/7-54, SA; Sudan Government and Advisory Council for the Northern Sudan, “The Government Plan for Educational Development in the Northern Sudan for the Next Ten Years,” in Proceedings of the Fifth Session Held at the Palace, Khartoum from 17th to 21st April, 1946 (Khartoum: McCorquodale & Co., 1946), 22–56; Ministry of Education, Proposals for the Expansion and Improvement of the Educational System in the Southern Provinces, 1951–56 (Khartoum: McCorquodale & Co., 1950); and Ministry of Education, Proposals for the Expansion and Improvement of the Educational System in the Northern Provinces, 1949–1956 (Khartoum: Sudan Survey Department, 1951).

(53.) Before the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium, territories of Northern Sudan and parts of the South had been briefly incorporated in the same administrative unit in the 1870s (Ottoman–Egyptian era) and in Mahdist times. On the historical dynamics leading to the abandonment of the “Southern Policy,” see Mohamed O. Beshir, The Southern Sudan: Background to Conflict (London: C. Hurst & Co., 1968), 59–66, 119–123, 134–153; Abd al-Rahim, Imperialism and Nationalism, 128, 241–244; and Said, The Sudan: Crossroads, 30, 40–44.

(54.) “Graduates Congress Note on Education,” 238.

(55.) Ibid., 252.

(57.) Abd al-Rahim, Imperialism and Nationalism, 128.

(58.) Beshir, The Southern Sudan, 65; Sanderson and Sanderson, Education, Religion and Politics, 293; Fadwa ʿA. al-R. ʿAlī Ṭaha, ʿAbd al-Raḥman ʿAlī Ṭaha (1901–1969) bayna al-taʿlīm wa-l-siyāsa wa-Arbajī (Khartoum: Dār jāmiʿat al-Kharṭūm li-l-nashr, 2004), 219.

(59.) Except for schools opened by religious organizations and foreigners, for which permission from the British civil secretary was still mandatory: Beshir, Educational Development, 177–178.

(60.) Ministry of Education, Proposals for the Expansion and Improvement of the Educational System in the Southern Provinces, 3.

(61.) Ziada O. Arbab, “Speech in Parliament on 18 June, 1957,” in Said, The Sudan: Crossroads, 196; and The Republic of the Sudan, This Is Our Way to Build a Strong Nation: Education (Khartoum: Information Centre of the Ministry of Social Affairs, 1957), 1.

(62.) Ḥasan M. M. Aḥmad, Al-siyāsa al-taʿlīmiyya wa-l-thaqāfa al-ʿarabiyya fī janūb al-Sūdān (Khartoum: Al-markaz al-islāmī al-ifrīqī bi-l-Kharṭūm, 1983), 26, 29.

(63.) Sanderson and Sanderson, Education, Religion and Politics, 359.

(64.) Arbāb’s speech can be found in Said, The Sudan: Crossroads, 185–189.

(65.) Al-Sayyid, Taʾrīkh al-siyāsa wa-l-taʿlīm, 59–66; and Sanderson and Sanderson, Education, Religion and Politics, 360–361.

(66.) Sanderson and Sanderson, Education, Religion and Politics, 361.

(67.) Ibid., 366. Government syllabi were used in Upper Nile nationalized schools as early as 1958: Aḥmad, Al-siyāsa al-taʿlīmiyya, 30. For a more detailed analysis of Arabization policies in late colonial and early postcolonial Southern Sudan, see Seri-Hersch, Enseigner l’histoire, chap. 7.

(68.) Osman, “The Rise and Decline of the People’s (Ahlia) Education,” 368.

(69.) Beshir, Educational Development; and Al-Sayyid, Taʾrīkh al-siyāsa wa-l-taʿlīm.

(70.) On missionary education in Southern Sudan, see before all Sanderson and Sanderson, Education, Religion and Politics but also David Sconyers, “British Policy and Mission Education in the Southern Sudan, 1928–1946” (PhD diss., University of Pennsylvania, 1978), and L. P. Sanderson “Education in the Southern Sudan: The Impact of Government-Missionary-Southern Sudanese Relationships upon the Development of Education during the Condominium Period, 1898–1956,” African Affairs 79 (1980): 157–169. On missionary education in the North, see Heather J. Sharkey, “Christians among Muslims: The Church Missionary Society in the Northern Sudan,” Journal of African History 43.1 (2002): 51–75; and L. P. Sanderson, “Educational Development and Administrative Control in the Nuba Mountains Region of the Sudan,” Journal of African History 4.2 (1963): 233–247.

(71.) Osman, “The Rise and Decline of the People’s (Ahlia) Education”; and Suʿād ʿAbd al-ʿAzīz Aḥmad, Qaḍāyā al-taʿlīm al-ahlī fī al-Sūdān, al-jizʾ al-awwal: al-khalāwī wa-l-madāris al-ahliyya (1898–1956) (Khartoum: Dār jāmiʿat al-Kharṭūm li-l-nashr, 1990).

(72.) See for instance L. P. Sanderson, “The Development of Girls’ Education”; L. P. Sanderson, “The Educational and Social Development.” See also Heather Bell, “Midwifery Training and Female Circumcision in the Inter-war Anglo-Egyptian Sudan,” Journal of African History 39.2 (1998): 293–312; and H. J. Sharkey, “Chronicles of Progress: Northern Sudanese Women in the Era of British Imperialism,” Journal of Imperial and Commonwealth History 31.1 (2003): 51–82.

(73.) El-Fatih Mahgoub, “Secondary Education in the Sudan, 1905–1955: An Historical Review with Special Reference to Political and Social Influences” (MPhil thesis, University of London, 1966).

(74.) H. J. Sharkey, Living with Colonialism: Nationalism and Culture in the Anglo-Egyptian Sudan (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2003).

(75.) Babikir El-H. El-F. Kardaman, “Higher Education in the Sudan” (PhD diss., University of Kansas, 1975); and Subki M. El Gizouli, Higher Education in the Sudan, 1898–1966 (Khartoum: Khartoum University Press, 1999).

(76.) Sandell, English Language in Sudan; Sharkey, Living with Colonialism; Iris Seri-Hersch, “Did Friends and Enemies Change upon Decolonization? A Sudanese History Handbook for Elementary Schools, 1949–1958,” in Freund- und Feindbilder in Schulbüchern, eds. Arsen Djurovic and Eva Matthes (Bad Heilbrunn: Klinkhardt Verlag, 2010), 217–229; and Iris Seri-Hersch, “Sudan and the British Empire in the Era of Colonial Dismantlement (1946–1956): History Teaching in Comparative Perspective,” in The Road to the Two Sudans, eds. Souad T. Ali et al. (New Castle upon Tyne: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2014), 177–219.

(77.) For instance, my research on history teaching in late colonial and early postcolonial Sudan has shown that the decolonization of school historical narratives after independence was partial and fragmented.

(78.) For a dated yet interesting overview of certain relevant sources, see L. P. Sanderson, “A Survey on Material Available for the Study of Educational Development in the Modern Sudan, 1900–1963,” Sudan Notes and Records 44 (1963): 69–81.

(79.) ʿUthmān A. al-Amīn, Bakht al-Ruḍā, sittat ʿuqūd fī masīrat al-taʿlīm: 1934/1935–1994/1995 (Khartoum: Maṭbaʿat jāmiʿat al-Kharṭum, 2007).

(80.) Graph by author, data taken from the following sources: [Sudan] Education Department, Annual Report, 1938, 1946, 1948, and 1954; Sudan Government, Sudan Almanac (Khartoum: McCorquodale & Co., 1952, 1954, and 1955); Beshir, Educational Development, 199, 208; Sanderson and Sanderson, Education, Religion and Politics, 306; and L. P. Sanderson, “The Educational and Social Development of Sudanese Girls and Women with Emphasis upon the Years 1953–1964,” in The Condominium Remembered: Proceedings of the Durham Sudan Historical Records Conference, 1982. Vol. 2:The Transformation of the Old Order in the Sudan, ed. Deborah Lavin (Durham: Centre for Middle Eastern and Islamic Studies, University of Durham, 1993), 176.

(81.) Statistics taken from the following sources: Education Department, Annual Report (1948), 46, 49–50; and Sanderson and Sanderson, Education, Religion and Politics, 306.