Sheikh Babiker Badri, founder of Ahfad and pioneer of Girls Education in the Sudan
The story of Ahfad needs to be told in reference to the founder Babiker Badri history. He was a warrior of Almahdi revolution that liberated Sudan from the Turco Egyptian colonisation. He was part of battles that defeated colonisers and also part 9f the battle where they were defeated by the British troops in 1898. He wrote in his books My Life that the defeat was not due to lack of courage but the enemy has developed weapons and we used much less advanced ones. Now we are colonised we need to benefit from them by educating our next generation. So he decided to go into the education career which he made the goal of his lifetime that extended till 1954.
The British accepted his challenge to train him for 2 weeks in modern education and then appointed as the first Sudanese headmaster and teacher of the first boys school the British opened in 1902 outside the capital Khartoum, in Rufaa Town. There he taught all subjects mathematics, Arabic, geography, history and religion. In 1904 he asked the British authorities to open a girls school as he thought education of men only will not lead to change if mothers are illiterate. The authorities refused and he kept asking each year and in January 1907 he received permission that he opens it under his name and responsibilities and cost and the government has no support. He accepted the challenge and opened the first girls school in his house and he was the teacher after he finished the boys teaching. The school continued and graduated two batches mainly his daughters, relatives and daughters of friends and those he managed to convince which was not an easy task. After that success the British government decided to consider the school as a government one and assigned for it teachers and a school. Babiker Badri then was assigned as an education supervisor to open schools in other parts of Sudan whereby he used to change Quranic teaching places named Khalwa to modern education schools by giving some training to those teachers. When he reached 70 years old he was given pension.
He decided to continue and opened the first non-government school in 1930 in Rufaa but then moved to the capital. There he needed financial support to build the schools the kindergarten and primary mixed for both gender then the intermediate school for each, then in 1942 the secondary school for boys and he passed in 1954. Fund raising was for him a challenge to get free land from the government and money from Sudanese people to build these extensive buildings. He thought the best way is to form a council of trustees from government officials, academics and wealthy Sudanese as he needs support from each category. Further the Ahfad Schools to be registered in the name of Sudanese people and on behalf of them the board of trustees. This he considered as important to encourage fund raising. He travelled all over Sudan to get funds as little as any can give so as all feel that they contributed and Ahfad belongs to them. As he travelled during his job in different parts opening schools, he was known to the people. Furthermore, Sudanese appreciated his pioneering work in starting girls education.
The journey was not easy as it sounded but with dedication and his personality capabilities he managed to reach to his goals. The journey was completed by his son Yousif Babiker Badri who promoted the Ahfad schools by opening the first Women University in Africa in 1966. That was also found resistance from some ministers who are not believers that non-government universities can be established. AHFAD UNIVERSITY FOR WOMEN AND AHFAD SCHOOLS are to date resemble a unique experience of a complete education ladder from kindergarten to university.