104 HE institutions burned and vandalised, says ministry

A total of 104 government and private higher education institutions in Sudan, as well as research centres and the National Fund for Student Welfare have been damaged and vandalised since April when the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) and the paramilitary Rapid Support Forces (RSF) became embroiled in a war.

All institutions in Khartoum State, where the capital is also located, as well as several in other states, have been affected.

The scale of destruction in Sudan’s higher education sector was outlined in a statement posted on Facebook on 27 August by the country’s ministry of higher education and scientific research which condemned the destruction. The ministry’s own offices were damaged in a fire that affected several floors.

“In the state of Khartoum, all public universities and their faculties were affected, in addition to more than 10 private universities, two national universities, and 20 university colleges,” according to the statement.

In addition, in some of the other 17 states, six public universities and their faculties were affected by looting, the crushing [of infrastructure] and arson in addition to damage to a number of private university faculties. The properties and homes of faculty members and workers have also been systematically targeted in the conflict.

In addition to the damage to infrastructure, transportation systems were also immobilised.

“All of the crimes against higher education and scientific research institutions and their employees have caused academic and research activity to stop in those institutions,” the ministry said.

Speaking to University World News, Dr Abdelillah Douda, a Darfuri academic, said Sudan’s higher education system would need years to be rebuilt “even if the war stops today, because the infrastructures of most of these colleges were destroyed by the fighting factions”.

“A clear example of this destruction is the University of El-Geneina, Zalengi, and Nyala in Darfur, which were burned to ashes,” Douda said.

Also, the entrance to the International University of Africa, a private university in Khartoum, and its main gate appear to have been burned as indicated in photos posted on X (formerly known as Twitter) on 6 August.

As a result of the turmoil, Sudan’s minister of higher education and scientific research, Professor Mohamed Hassan Dahab Ahmed, on 14 August closed all public, private and national universities and higher education institutions and suspended all academic activities until further notice.

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