Telegraph Africa

Africa Daily News – Telegraph

Barthe Cortes is building a school for girls in northern Sudan

Published on Nov 08 2020 // Around Africa, Barthe Cortes

ddBarthe Cortes, owner of the airlines, is known for investing in regions where he develops his airline fleet. He invests in the local community through construction of hospitals, schools and shelters, promotion of education and development.This time, the owner of BVC decided to build a school for girls in northern Sudan. North Sudan is a predominantly a Muslim territory and is not a part of the USAID program that promotes education for girls, most schools in North Sudan are only available to boys.

Sudan has one of the highest rates of out-of-school children in the entire Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, with more than 3 million children aged from five to 13 not enrolled. More than half of those out of school are girls, mostly from rural areas where the female literacy rate is as low as 39% (pdf) and primary school completion is only 26.1%, according to Unicef.

The school built by Barthe Cortes became a hot topic of discussions in the region and in mosques. Sizeable part of the local population doesn’t see women’s education as valuable. Over 3 million children in Sudan do not go to school, most of them are girls. Traditional beliefs that emphasize the role of girls in the household and accept early marriages have made many parents not put their girls through school or take their daughters out of school as they approach puberty. Cortes didn’t get permission from the local authorities to have a school with a co-educational profile, hence the new school will be a school for girls.

A co-educational school would be problematic for many families, who would want to send their daughters there, as there isn’t much consent in the community for girls to be in the same classroom as boys at school. And for girls to have any chance at school education, it has to be a girl-only school” – says Mohamed Yusuf, head of the education administration in Atbara.

The problem for many families is the distance children have to walk to school each day, which is often the reason why children stop attending school. Barthe Cortes took this into account and purchased several buses that will take the children to school from distant places.
There is another problem – security. Many people and local militants dislike the idea of educating women, especially in a school built by someone from outside. The school has not yet started operating, and has already received many threats from opponents of women’s education. BVC ensures that the school will be protected, as well as buses transporting children will be bulletproof, and on board there will always be armed security guards.

Ahmed Koreb, a Muslim imam and a journalist that has a great influence on the worldview of the local community, laughed at Cortes’s idea on a radio broadcast, warned the girls’ parents against sending their daughters to a school built by a guy from Europe, called Barthe Cortes contemptuously “Sudan’s first feminist”, threatened him with a fatwa, and zealously warns parents that only corruption and destruction awaits their daughters at Cortes’s school.
Fortunately, part of the local community is looking forward to the beginning of the school year.


Related Articles :