Education in Sudan is free and compulsory for children aged 6 to 13 years. Primary education consists of eight years, followed by three years of secondary education. The former educational ladder 6 + 3 + 3 was changed in 1990. The primary language at all levels is Arabic. Schools are concentrated in urban areas; many in the West have been damaged or destroyed by years of civil war. In 2001 the World Bank estimated that primary enrollment was 46 percent of eligible pupils and 21 percent of secondary students. Enrollment varies widely, falling below 20 percent in some provinces. The literacy rate is 70.2% of total population, male: 79.6%, female: 60.8%.
Sudan has 19 universities; instruction is primarily in Arabic. Education at the secondary and university levels has been seriously hampered by the requirement that most males perform military service before completing their education. Changes encouraged by president Al-Bashir alienated many researchers: the official language of instruction in universities was changed from English to Arabic and Islamic courses became mandatory. Internal science funding withered. According to UNESCO, more than 3000 Sudanese researchers left the country between 2002 and 2014. By 2013, the country had a mere 19 researchers for every 100,000 citizens, or 1/30 the ratio of Egypt, according to the Sudanese National Centre for Research. In 2015, Sudan published only about 500 scientific papers.