Sudanese public schools have gone through huge changes recently, moving from a Westernized curriculum taught in English, to an Islamic curriculum taught in Arabic. The government of General Bashir announced sweeping educational reforms in 1990. Now all schools use a Muslim curriculum and all course elements are drawn from the Qur'an.

Most schools in Sudan are clustered around Khartoum, where they originally followed a British model. There are still some Italian-run Christian missionary schools in Sudan. Canadian Jesuits operate a theological school and there is also a school run by French nuns in Khartoum.

Most of the colleges and universities are in the northern regions. Skilled technical workers are needed in southern Sudan, but civil war erupted before the vocational schools were completed and many teachers and students fled. More universities tailored to Sudan's needs were opened in the capital region in the late 1980s. As with health care, recent privatization has made education less affordable and accessible. The continuing warfare has closed schools for long periods of time in some parts of the country.
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In the Muslim areas of Sudanese villages, the local religious leader or imam often runs a religious school for the children called a khalwa, where the holy teachings of the Qu'ran or Koran are studied.

The current campaign Arabization is highly controversial, particularly in the south and has significantly contributed to resentment and hostility towards government policies. Islamic education has traditionally been available in the north.

In the past, girls' education was primarily of this religious kind, although many girls received secular schooling, too. More women than men entered professions such as medicine, law and economics, the only professions open to women in the 1980's.