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Explainer: Businessday NG: The reasons behind the large number of Nigerian students studying in Sudan

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    The Federal Government said few days ago that 5,500 Nigerians in conflict-torn Sudan were ready for evacuation. Many of them went to the North African country to study.

    Before the arrival of the European and Arabic masters to Africa, the name Sudan was an Arabic term that depicted black nations or lands of blacks.

    Hence, geographically and historically speaking, the whole of the Savannah regions outside the rainforests and up to the Sahara desert, stretching from West Africa to parts of East Africa, was known to Arab explorers as “Sudan”.

    Education in Sudan is valued and enshrined as one of the constitutional rights of citizens and it is seen as being central to national development.

    Every Sudanese child from the age of 6 to 13 is entitled to free and compulsory education.

    The primary language at all levels of education is Arabic. However, in recent years, the government of Sudan made provisions accommodating the teaching of the English Language starting in kindergarten.

    The University of Khartoum is the largest and oldest university in Sudan. It was founded as Gordon Memorial College in 1902 and established in 1956 when Sudan gained independence. Since then, it has been recognised as a top university and a high-ranked academic institution in Sudan and Africa.

    Friday Erhabor, director of media and strategy at Marklenez Limited, said one of the reasons for the massive move to Sudan by Nigerian students is that Sudan has developed its tertiary institutions for long.

    “In terms of quality education, Sudan historically had always been a destination for other African countries,” he said.

    “A lot of middle-class northerners who needed quality tertiary education for their children in an environment where their religion and moral upbringing will not be compromised often looked at Sudan and Egypt more than Western countries,” he said.

    “As Muslims, one good thing about studying in Sudan is that one rather study in Arabic.:

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    Sudan shares the same cultural and religious background as many northern Nigerian regions, having been colonised by Islamic countries.

    Sudan offers Nigerian Muslim students the avenue to study without any culture shocks or civilisational crisis, which even cosmopolitan black students experience in Europe and other developed countries.

    Northern Nigeria and Sudan have not only had historical interactions and cultural similarities, but Sudanese tertiary institutions also offer superior specialised training in various fields of Islamic studies.

    For instance, Sanusi Lamido Sanusi, former governor of the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN), obtained a master’s degree in Islamic Jurisprudence at a Sudanese university in the 1990s.

    The Sudanese education he got guided him in reforming Islamic banking in Nigeria during his stewardship at the apex bank.

    This ancient African country had a well-established education system and a university for more than half a century before Nigeria had one.

    Besides, the tertiary education calendar is well structured in that a four-year course is completed in four years. And this is attracting many Nigerian students since the academic calendar in the country is erratic.

    Emmanuel Osodeke, president of the Academic Staff Union of Universities (ASUU), said the failure of federal government to make Nigeria’s educational system work and attractive is making many youths move to other countries to study.

    Moreover, some people believe that another salient reason why some northern Nigerian students go to Sudan is because of its history of being a breeding ground for religious extremists.

    Most known notorious international terrorists such as Nigerian-born Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, and Osman bin Ladi, who even own a company in the country, have links with Sudanese religious extremists.


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