Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Farewell to Dr Marina Hitchen: Principal of Unity High School from 2006-2011

As you are all aware, Dr Marina Hitchen, the Principal of Unity High School has been asked by the School Council to step down as Principal at the end of this school year. Dr Marina would of course have loved to have stayed at Unity for another academic year to ensure that the successes that she is responsible for and which are so obvious to the parents, teachers, students and even the Ministry of Education could have been built on and continued effectively by her successor. This is not to be however, and it is with great sadness that we are saying goodbye to Dr. Marina, her work here at Unity left incomplete.

Although everyone associated with the school have great fears for the future of Unity, let at least this page on the Archive be a celebration of all that Dr. Marina has achieved in the time in which she has been Principal. Unity High School is currently enjoying success as never before: IGCSE results that continue to improve year by year and are the envy of every other school in Sudan, SAT results that are also improving every year, a very successful 'A' Level programme introduced, a stable and happy teaching staff, students that celebrate and take pride in their school, excellent relationships with parents (we hardly ever see a parent with a complaint anymore!) and the Ministry of Education love us too! All of this is due to the hard work and dedication of Dr Marina Hitchen.

Thank you Dr Marina for all that you have done for Unity and we wish you every success in the future. You will be missed by all.

Please leave your comments and memories of Dr. Marina's time at Unity on this post, by clicking on 'Comments' below and then using the Comments box. Please write your name at the end of your comment so that we know who you are!

Steve Gooch for the Unity High School Archive - 19th April 2011


  1. Thanks for all of your support for the School Archive Dr. Marina! It is a pity that we did not have the time to re-introduce the school's proud history around the school as we had planned. Much still to do, and no time to do it.

  2. Dr. Marina,
    It is with great sadness and utter disbelief that I hear from my daughter Ruan (teacher 6Z), that you are having to leave. We were only in Khartoum for a short stay, but our tour around Unity was the highlight. It is a truely lovely school and the examples of school work that we saw were most impressive. Your hard work and leadership shone through. Ruan has loved her time at Unity and I know that she will miss the school,its staff and pupils very much. I want to thank you for making her stay in Sudan such a memorable and happy one, and most of all for giving her the experience that will hopefully enable to get a job in England. May I wish you every success in the future and happiness in whatever you do next. I know that the school will miss you terribly. With Thanks. Hilary Marson.

  3. It's been great working with you for the past three years since I came to Unity Marina. It's been a rollercoaster of a journey, and hardly a day has gone by without some drama grabbing our attention. Thanks for all of your support in the art department, and I am pleased to see that under your Principalship at Unity, art has secured a much better profile in the school, with Year 9 students opting to take art at IGCSE more than ever before. It is a pity and a waste that all of your hard work - across the school as a whole and in developing such good relationships with parents and the Ministry is heading the way that it is. I do not feel positive about Unity next year at all, but at least we all gave it our best shot and if the school does plummet next year as expected, at least we know it was not as a consequence of your actions, or those of your staff who helped you build Unity into what it is today: the biggest success in it's history.
    Steve Gooch, Head of Art, Head of Year 12

  4. I was greatly saddened when i heard that you are not going to be with us for another year. You have been a great teacher to me and i shall remember your lessons life long and i wish you the best of luck wherever you may be.
    Ayon Walsh

  5. Dr Marina!! Awwh i wish you weren't going :(
    No fair, we had so much fun in business classes! I wish you could stay another year, just long enough to watch us graduate :( I hope you enjoyed your time here, and I hope we havent caused you tooo much trouble :P You have given us some truly memorable moments here, and you have accomplished so much, and opened so many new doors to us... Like this archive :D
    Now the whole world can know what a truly awesome Principal you are, and how much you student love and are going to miss you!!
    Unity won't be the same without you :(

    -Shaimaa Osman, Opt 5 Business class ;) <3

  6. Dr. Marina it's been a great pleasure to have u here with us in school. Without u school would'nt be fun and interesting as it is when ur here with us =(. It's always been a comfort to kno tht ur around even though u haven't taught me in any of my subjects, but tht dosnt matter cuz when i look at u i kno ur a great person =)
    Im gna miss u dearly =( =)
    With love,
    Yasmin Ibrahim, 10z <3

  7. Dear Dr.Marina !!!!!! I've really enJOYed having u as a Business teacher this year and as a Principal for my 5 years at UHS =) u have made Business fun and interesting and honestly...i would have dropped Business if it wasn't for u =D i have to go finish my artwork ;) but thanks for everything !!!! Hana xx 10z, OPT.4
    P.S. i would have REALLY wanted u to be there for our graduation =( come visit us <3 xxxx

  8. hey dr. marina it was awesome having u as a principal and a bussiness teacher were all sorry that u couldnt stay 4r our graduation ... anyways wishing u lots of happiness and stuff
    ....good luck
    ammani razik 10x

  9. Dear Dr.marina i have been in this school since 3rd grade ... i have to say that these last years were the best years. Having you as our principal was an honor you did great things other principal's weren't capable of. Not only that but you were a great business teacher and i was happy that i took this subject.We will miss you dearly and its feels so bad you won't be here when we graduate. Sarah Sami 10z

  10. heyyy Dr.Marina we r all gonna miss you alot .. it was great having you as our principle , our friend and like our mother =]
    i wish you the best of all and where ever you are we will still think of u =] XOxo <3 <3!!
    with love and will always miss you Durrar - 10x <3

  11. Dr. Marina it's been a great pleasure to have u here with us in school. Without u school would'nt be fun and interesting as it is when ur here with us =(. It's always been a comfort to kno tht ur around even though u haven't taught me in any of my subjects, but tht dosnt matter cuz when i look at u i kno ur a great person =) and u really r cuz ur very kind with us and u love each and every student. Hatim mohammed 10z :D WILL MISS U SOOOOO MUCH!!!

  12. DR.MARINA !i still can't beleive that your not gonna be here next year. I had a wonderful year with you and enjoyed every second of it. I'm a lucky person to have a business teacher like you and you taught me one thing and that i'll always remember and that is WOMEN ARE CAPABLE OF DOING ANYTHING,EVEN OWNING A BUSINESS ! It's too sad that your not gonna be here for our graduation :'( but please do keep in touch with us. And do spread the messege were ever you go that women are achieving the impossible and can even rule men one day haha !
    xoxox tc, WILL MISS YA LOADS and don't forget me !
    Azhar Sholgami 10y

  13. dear dr.marina,
    u have been a great principal and teacher not just for me but for the whole school. u helped me out while i was in trouble and i will never forget that. the whole the school and i will never forget what u did for us these past years. I will miss u sooo much!!!!!!!!!

  14. Note: The above comment is from Ashraf in Year 10. Leave your name on your comment please!

  15. The fact that your leaving is soo sad.WE WILL ALL MISS YOU SOOO MUCH AND WONT FORGET YOU!!!You taught me alot and i thank you for being the best business teacher and principal.
    your student Umeima Elzaki 10Y

  16. Razan Abdurrahman 10zApril 20, 2011 at 12:02 PM

    Dear Dr.Marina, I've been at this school since you arrived and hoped that you would still be here when I finished! It's been good having you as a headteacher and we are all concerned about what will happen to the school when you leave. You made Business a worthwhile subject, and a lot of the other subjects are only here because you introduced them or made them worthwhile taking :). All of us will miss you very much...

  17. It seems like it was just yesterday when you first arrived here...and now you're leaving :(.
    I'd like a moment to thank you for all of your support and encouragement. You have made our stay at this school worthwhile. So thank you, thank you, THANK YOU! And no matter where you go remember that we appreciate you and miss you so.

    Lina El Malik 10y

  18. I hope the new "principal" of Unity High School takes a long read at these comments and has a serious think. I also hope and pray that this decision is somehow reversed as it can only be described as completely unjust and unjustifiable.
    At the beginning of the 21st Century Unity High School was not exactly a "leading light" in providing an outstanding and international education for students. Whilst the school had a long history, standards had fallen and options for students were limited. Since Dr Marina's arrival in 2006 the changes could not be more dramatic. IGCSE results have vastly improved, options at IGCSE have increased, AS/A Levels are available for students who choose to continue to study at Unity, UHS is a key centre for IGCSE examinations in Sudan and the overall process of teaching and learning has increased.
    Dr Marina is one of very few (and believe me, I have worked for several principals) Western principals who came to Sudan and understood, respected and appreciated the local culture, faith and traditions. I think her interest in local culture and language is best exemplified by her insistence that the Arabic dept in school was given proper recognition (something that did not exist before her arrival) - and this has been most clearly demonstrated in her insistence that there is an annual Arabic Day, where students and staff can appreciate aspects of Arabic culture and learning. Additionally she has hosted iftars during Ramadan, given speeches in Arabic and encouraged students to take part in the recent Arabian Nights Day (a charity fundraising event) in preparation for the performance of alf leyla wa leyla/1001 Nights - which she was actively involved in.
    Not many school Principals continue to teach - Dr Marina has done. She is able to teach a wide range of subjects and her students over the years here have appreciated all she has done as a teacher in addition to all she has done as Principal. For teachers she has actively supported and encouraged staff development and learning and has never established a "hierarchy" of treating some staff better than others. Whether you are the tea lady or the deputy principal Dr Marina has always been completely fair and polite in dealing with you - and that is the same with how she has dealt with all students.
    I feel particularly saddened for all the year 10 students who are being left at the most crucial time so far in their school career. Left not only by Dr Marina but by several other staff members who feel their positions are now untenable due to this decision to have Dr Marina leave. Many of us would have loved to have stayed longer and are very upset to be leaving. Some of you may not know this but several teachers currently at Unity are here because of Dr Marina. People who had either worked for her or knew her before and knew they would be working in a highly academic and fair environment - the majority of these teachers have decided to leave now.
    I do not believe that any person is indispensable but I do believe there is a right way to do something and to have her leave at this point is not the right way at all.
    Whoever the new "principal" is they are going to have a huge task ahead of them to even begin to attempt to reach the level of quality of experience and depth of knowledge Dr Marina has brought to UHS.
    The loss is that of the staff, the parents but mostly the students.
    We wish you all the best Dr Marina and at the same time I wish all the students of Unity High School the best in their studies and that, inshallah, your school continues somehow in the way that Dr Marina has worked so, so hard to achieve.

  19. There is not much to add to K's comment, above.

    I am extremely upset to learn that Marina is being treated in such a manifestly unfair, unjust and disgraceful manner by the Board of UHS.

    For some four years I worked alongside Marina to help build UHS - in my case in the Primary section. This task would have been impossible without the inspirational leadership, commitment to the highest professional standards and immense energy and love of the job that Marina brought to Unity.

    I cannot express how dismayed - no, angry - I am at the treatment of my former leader and my dear friend who not only led by example but also taught staff and students alike the true liberation that is great education.

    Ben Jefferies (former Assistant Head of Primary, Unity High School)

  20. dear dr. marina,
    finding out that you were leaving bought us great sadness and disbelief. even though we've been in this school for a short time, we have realised that you have become a great aspect of this school that you have changed the school in many great ways. we understand that making the option timetable for the year 9's has been a difficult job, and no replacement can do what you have done. our interview with you was very successful and were going to miss you very dearly. we thank you for not only being a great headmaster but for being our friends.
    we wish you all the best in the future in egypt with your magnificent hotel, be sure to save us a room for when we come visit you ;)
    thank you, from danya hussein and reem awad 9x :) <3 x

  21. i have been a student here since year three and i had you as a principle since the day you started working here. it will be hard adapting to new rules of a new principal so we will miss you a lot.
    Amin and Karim 9x

  22. There is definitely something amiss here. I find the decision not to renew Dr Hitchen's contract to be the most puzzling that I have encountered in 35 years of education. I believe that the reason that has been stated is that the Council does not want a Principal to stay for more than 5 years. Do Christian bishops and clergy have a similar security of tenure?
    I visited the school in Dr. Hitchen's first year of contract. I was interested to see the school that had come to my attention when Dr Strath, and later, Mr Birch were in charge. I found a school that was badly resourced: was in desperate need of capital investment: and was failing its students. As a former international school director and qualified OFSTED inspector, I was invited to share my views with Dr.Hitchen. I had to report that the quality of teaching that I had witnessed was the poorest that I had ever encountered. Dr. Hitchen welcomed my opinions, harsh as they were, and vowed to turn the school around. I did not believe that this could be achieved.... but Dr Hitchen has proved me wrong. Despite the hammer blow of the "Teddy Bear" incident, Dr. Marina has improved staffing quality beyond recognition; weeding out the deadwood; developing the potential of others; and recruiting sound practitioners to a place that is not the most popular of destinations. Teaching quality has been transformed and the improvement is validated through SAT and IGCSE results. Dr Hitchen realised the changing culture of the school and has championed the teaching of Arabic and Islamic Studies as is fitting with the current student demographic. (I hope that this is not a reason for the Council's decision)
    I visited the school again in 2009. I could not believe the transformation. Those who work and love education can sense within minutes the energy of a successful school. We talk about the "buzz". If this is the case, Unity had knocked over the hives. There was a brightness and purpose about staff and students that was an absolute joy. The buildings were spruce and well appointed. Resources were more than adequate. Children were happy with their learning. I met parents who shared their children's contentment and were proud to be a part of the school ... but 5 years of success is sufficient? Something is wrong..... very wrong.
    Eric Liddell, BA, H.Dip.Ed, FCMI,CMgr
    (CMI - Ambassador for Education)

  23. Dear Marina, Obviously I do not know the circumstances surrounding this news, but I cannot imagine that it can be a good thing for Unity. I would like to put on record my thanks and admiration for the leadership you showed when I was working there, often in very difficult conditions, especially during the teddy bear incident. You have certainly taken the school forward in so many different ways. On a personal note I would also like to thank you for all the help you gave me. Good luck with the future ,whatever it brings. Brian McGinty Humanities teacher 2009/09

  24. dear dr. marina,
    We have been here since year 3 so i learned how to judge principals so out of all the principals that have worked here we think your the best so this is why you always get us out of problems because you care about us we hope you have a good life and experiences after you leave this school we are grateful and thank you.
    Alhadi and Mahmoud, 9X

  25. Dear Dr Marina, its been an honour having you as our principle at unity high school, and i enjoyed your business classes. You are going to be missed next year. i wish you the best of luck.
    Michael Hani

  26. Dear Dr Marina

    It was a pleasure attending Unity high school every morning knowing that you are the pricipal, since obviously all teachers are very happy to have you as their boss and u seem to know what you are doing. Business lessons are the coolest with you and alot of fun. Its very sudden to hear that after just 5 years of being a principal you are being exchanged with someone else. i have had many experiences in those years and i have definitely learned alot. I will surely miss you loads !! thanks for putting up with us! :) Vanessa Sami

  27. to the WOMAN who made BIG changes to this school in the past four very successful years. Not only that you have been a principal of my home UHS, but you have been the most unique teacher i ever had. period ! it has been the biggest pleasure for me to attend your business classes. No matter how many times i always come to class late, and showed no intentions that i was alive in your class. .I have to say these classes were always the most INTERESTING! All the stories you been telling us and the casual manner in which you MOTIVATE us by. .i have to say- that we were all upset when we found out that there is no more YOU! FAREWELL. Ali Adil Ali Grade.10

  28. Dear Dr.Marina

    The moment we knew that you are leaving UHS all our hopes went down. The school is gonna miss you. You've made LOADS of changes in UHS by bringing good teachers. I would have to make it crystal CLEAR that without Dr. Marina sitting in HER office everyday..this school will NOT succed ! Amir Seif

  29. I absolutely agree with all the comments above and particularly those made by 2 of my year 10 students Ali and Amir..
    We are all very upset by this decision that has been taken to replace you and as I said earlier I am particularly upset for all of Year 10 who are reaching such a crucial stage in their education.

  30. Dr marina we will always have you as a prnciple in our eyes we will always miss you and hope for the best for the future for js and for you.:-)

  31. The above comments reflect your dedication to the school and the educational success of Unity students. I'm a big believer that everything in life happens for a reason and I hope that you find your future as rewarding as I think you have found your time here at Unity.

    I have certainly enjoyed my last two years teaching at the school and wish you every happiness in your future.


  32. I do believe that Marina must be reinstated as principal of Unity immediatly , this whole ordeal is causing much harm to our children and to this School , having said this we also need to confront the issues of theft , and corruption it is NOW time for the parents of Unity to stop sitting on the backsides and show how much they really care about there school and the principal !!!!! COME ON STAND UP AND MAKE YOU YOURSELVES HEARD !!!!!

  33. I have been working with you Dr.Marina since January 2007 but now I have decided to resign my post as Deputy Head of Primary because I believe that what this council is doing to this school and to you is an absolute disgrace of the highest order. These people have no idea about how to run a school and are not educationalists at all. They have no idea how to treat people in a professional and respectable manner, let alone keep in mind the welfare and education of the children of this well maintained and managed establishment under your leadership.

    “Doctora” OH HOW I WILL MISS saying that every morning!! It might be 7am, before 7am or shortly after 7am because that is when the door to your house opens to anyone that needs to see you. I know because I usually need to see you at that time. Your day starts even earlier than that: reading e- mails, staff recruitment issues 24 hours a day , looking after the needs of all your staff , making phone calls , analysing results , timetabling the entire school before the start of the academic year , waiting for new staff to arrive sometimes till the early hours of the morning, working out the overtime for the workers on a weekly basis, meeting the school Director at 7.30am on a daily basis even on Friday’s and yes most Sundays, organising flights, writing letters for visas, ordering books, stationery, sorting out paperwork for departments , sorting out the exams not just the IGCSE but for the whole school including the Arabic, not to mention the invigilation timetables, teaching business and economics, mathematics and still run a school at the same time. There are times when you deal with several major issues at once: not something that everybody can do, and yes I too agrees with ‘K’. If the new Principal of Unity knows what she is up against, she would run a mile ……..

    At the same time we would like to thank Mr.David for always and I mean ALWAYS being there. One just need to fill in a form and it is done, this guy really makes a big difference in our lives in keeping on top of all the maintenance issues – and there are many – around the whole school and even in the staff accomodation. Who on earth is going to do all of this work?

    Marina you are a true inspiration. In education you are outstanding. Since I met you, you have guided me and helped me and taught me to the point where I now feel confident in a management capacity. I did not have this before. I learnt from you how to get organised, personally and professionally and in my life in general. I still remember the first time you gave me my book “keep it with you Bertram and write everything down that you have to do today” four and a half years later I have completed over seventeen books under your guidance!

    Marina you are a colleague, a friend, a teacher and above all my mentor: I salute you!!!!!

    Bertram Taylor (Deputy Head of Primary)

  34. What a Shock! Dr.Marina was and will always be one of the best people I have ever met. She was not only our mentor, but also a very nice individual who always made everyone around her happy. Your abilities and somehow "supernatural" ways will be truly missed. And I believe your absence will be catastrophic.
    With love,
    a very disappointed ex-student.

  35. Please can I urge all parents of pupils at Unity High School to fight for the reinstatement of Dr Marina. The school, at the moment has an enviable reputation as one of the best schools in Africa - indeed it is well known even here in England. Please don't let your misguided Board let that wonderful institution fall once again into obscurity, your children deserve the best and in Dr Marina they have it! Hilary Marson.

  36. Dear Marina, When I heard that you were leaving (or should I say being forced to leave?) I was so shocked and saddened. If you leave it will be a great loss to the school, staff, students and ultimately Sudan.

    I will never forget our first meeting five years ago, my interview! I was terrified on my way to the school and then I met you....... over a cup of coffee in your house with Mr David clattering away in the kitchen. I felt so relaxed and knew that great things were ahead. You set me on a journey that has been hard work but very rewarding.

    Only a few months into the job I fell very sick with a 'mysterious' illness, paralysed for a few days and then in constant pain. You insisted I stay home until I was well enough to return. Over a year later I became very ill again after a concoction of drugs that the doctors here had put me on gave me bad side effects. You sent me to England to get professional help. Some 6 weeks later I returned after a fantastic rheumatologist gave me a miracle pill that allows me to get on with daily life. I have suffered setbacks since and you have sent me home to rest. You allowed me time off to have an operation on my hand and then, just last month, you allowed me a week off to attend my Grandmother's funeral in England. For that I am truly grateful.

    On a professional level I must thank you for your fantastic effort with my daughter. Because of you and your relaxed manner she enjoys Business classes - a subject she wasn't sure whether she wanted to take! She has learnt a lot from you. But what about next year? The most crucial year for her, studying for IGCSEs. Who will be here to teach and guide her through Business Studies then? Then there's my other children, one in primary and the other secondary - with so many teachers leaving, will they have the teachers that they need? Thank god Stephanie will still be around!

    Then there's me - who will be here to ask after me and check I'm okay if you and Bertram have gone? I just hope the council will reconsider.

    Thanks, with great respect,


  37. I was disappointed when I heard that you were leaving as I hoped you would teach me business in year 10. Wishing you the best wherever you go.
    Mustafa 8X

  38. someone needs 2 get the board to see these...!!!

  39. Dr Marina I feel very saddened by the fact that you are leaving the school! it is very obvious that since your arrival the school has improved not just in academics but in many other fields, and that's coming from a guy who's only been here for less than a year!! =) I don't take any subjects taught by you but that does not matter, your great work is known by all.. I will also never forget what you did for me, after all your the reason I'm in the school! thank you! you've been a great principal I hope you have a successful future!! and the same goes for unity.. it's going to be hard to replace a principal like you.
    Mohammed Hamza 10y

  40. Thank you for everything you've done for me and the rest of the school, I don't know how UHS will overcome this loss! I wish you the best of luck wherever you go and I hope you never forget us and visit us again someday. You will be truly missed.
    Omnia Mohamed 10Z

  41. I have been in UHS for 7 years, I've seen principle after principle come and leave without improving the school, but since you arrived UHS has improved in so many ways, it became the leading international school in not only Sudan, but Africa too. After your leaving I doubt how this school will continue to live up to that title. I truly hope you do not leave and that the council realize how much of HUGE mistake they will be making if you leave. I also hope all these comments make a difference. Thank you so much for everything.

    Ahmed Mohamed 7X

  42. Saad Hassan (Parent)April 23, 2011 at 1:11 PM

    Dear Marina,

    It was a pleasure knowing you. You have been a great support during our experience, and that of our son, with Unity High School. We knew where to look for help and guidance.
    It is a loss for you to leave. I hope the decision is revised and reversed.
    In all cases, I wish you all the best. Please do keep in touch. And stay wonderful. Always smiling, always understanding, and always loving.

  43. I am not sure what has led to Marina's departure from the school. All I can say is that, at the time I visited to provide professional support and training, she was passionate about the school, its students and the quality of provision on offer. Her Arabic and international teams were hard-working, dedicated and eager to learn. I can only wish her and everyone at the school the strength, wisdom and compassion to go on to bigger and better things. Philip Schofield

  44. I am very surprised that Marina is leaving. My son has only been here one year but during that time we have certainly found out that the school is well run and that she is an excellent teacher for the business studies IGCSE. I know nothing about the matters that have led up to this but I have to say that I hope those remaining continue to keep Unity a stable environment for children's education.
    Best wishes for the future - Marina

  45. What an unrepairable lost UHS will have due to your departure.

    Take care & Good Luck


  46. Dear Marina,
    What can I soon as I heard that you won't be in UHS any longer - that very moment I decided to pull my son out of here and myself from the job there........why??? I have seen, experienced you working hard keeping harmony in the place within my one yera's experince - and deom my yeras of work experiences I can tell that by this decsion of the council - removing you - the place has started sahking already.....what will they benifit by taking such a hasty decision????? I am a sufferer as a parent of anIGCSE son was doing so good in studies in your subject and others', but with this change - we fear to experience the good result we were looking at in MAY JUNE 2012....pitty.....what means more to them - children's future or.......I don't understand why they had to do it! Can't things be changed????Back to normal!?! I so much wanted to stay back until 2012 - and myson to get cleared from UHS, under your supervision.....people - think......I am ever greatful for all your support throughout the year - may God keep you blessed where ever you will be!!! Missing you too much!!

    Luna Walsh
    Class teacher 3Z, UHS

  47. I was sad to leave unity 3 years ago. It was for domestic reasons only. It has come as a great shock to see Marina being forced out. Machiavelli lives!I can only assume that she has been made a scapegoat for something that has happened and that a coup d'etat is taking place. Haram! This should not be happening. Whilst I was there teaching Business, Economics, Accounting and Maths I can say without hesitation that she is the most honest, direct and trustworthy Principal that I have come across. She was unstinting in her workload and helped all staff and students in an honest open manner. Her door was always open for anyone to drop in for a chat. I have no hesitation in stating that the Board or whoever they are have made a retrograde step with the inevitable dire consequences for current students and their very unhappy parents. Unity under Marina was going from strength to strength over the years. Let them reconsider and quickly!
    David Fleming [former HOD Unity ]

  48. An update on the current situation: It is now reported that teachers employed to begin work at Unity for the 2011-12 academic year are starting to withdraw their applications in view of the clear anger, sadness and frustration that is evident on this Archive that is coming from the whole school community at the termination of Dr. Marina's contract and the unexplained circumstances surrounding it.

  49. It makes absolute sense that potential future employees are withdrawing their applications. The school is about to go from being a leader in education in Sudan to the depths of chaos. What is happening is wrong. The parents though MUST speak out - who do you think is going to educate your children next term? New recruits have decided not to come to the school and current teachers are leaving en masse.

  50. Where are the members of this School Council so that they be contacted and for an explanation for the reasons behind this?
    We urgently need the PTA to take the lead on this and call for an urgent parents general meeting were the council is invited to address "the parents, teachers, and children" concerns over the subject issue.
    I propose a meeting as early as tomorrow 25-April-2011 (between 7:30 and 8:30pm)

  51. For those wishing to contact the PTA directly, the Chairman of the PTA is Waddah Mohamed and he can be emailed here:

  52. Dear Dr.Marina

    You should be proud of your acheivement. You can see how you impressed all teachers, students as well. It was really sadness to say goodbye to a great principal.

    Adil Aziz

  53. Great thanks and appreciation of working with you and I wish in order to reconcile

    hisham kamal

  54. As a parent of two children, one who finished IGCSE in 2009 and another presently in year 8, I have known Dr.Marina from her first day as Principal of Unity High School.I have seen the progress and changes introduced by her in administration, recruitment and training of teachers, systems of teaching, disciplinary measures for students and above all the results and standard of education in school.Why should such an effective and strong Principal leave? Many parents will join me to appeal for her to stay and request the Board of Council to revoke their decision. Sincerely,
    Bhaskar Chakravorti

  55. Its such bad news to know that a great principal would leave , i always remember how much you love it when our school won a cup , we are going to miss u soo much :D
    no other principal can replace the amazing , well-known dr.marina.i wish you luck in your future!! :D
    Fadi Abubakr 8z

  56. Dr. Marina i have only been in UHS for three years now but i noticed that this school had been successing because of you. You were very enthusiastic to make the school success and give us the best education we can get. We will miss you ALOT ..and im very disappointed that you will not be my teacher next year. I was looking forward to your business classes that EVERYONE talks about and how awsome and fantastic they are. I wish that our new principle will be as motivating as you are. I want to wish you good luck and we'll be glad if u come back to UHS again if possible ?! Thank You =D
    Shahd Ahmed 9y O and Mr. Bertram I WILL MISS YOU especially on the school trips .. THis is THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA =D

  57. It is sad to see that the end Unity is headed towards is no different than where I had Marina. It's ironic and sad to see the same "DOOMED ENDING" over and over again, as if one being trapped in a time-loop, living the same chunk of life and repeating it over, without a visible end in sight. I wish Marina all the best for the rest of what lies ahead and hope to see/hear something different (better). Two thumbs to all her good work, there's no doubt to her being matchless in her professional abilities and achievements.

  58. I think people need to know that Marina has her business here in Egypt and we are all waiting for her to come here. She is also supporting some poor schools here in Luxor. Many times we have aked her to leave her job in Sudan because we need her here. Reading the comments I can understand why she is not happy to leave Sudan at once. What she is doing in Sudan is just for your kids and nothing else.I hope that your school finds a good Principal and that she can pass the work over to them properly because she needs to feel that the future of your kids is safe and right now she feels their education is at risk. Mohamed Fawy (Business partner in Egypt(

  59. The tone of the comments being posted are giving the impression that we are giving-up on the subject.
    We (parents) need to give a direct message that we are not going to sit and watch the future of our kids falling apart.
    We need to understand the reasons behind such a decision so as to be able to make the right choice for the education of our children (that for some will be stating at this school or not).
    The School Council needs to know that it looks like they will end up with a school with neither teachers nor students.
    The business Partner should be more than happy to post his comment as stated above however I don’t agree that “she is doing in Sudan is just for your kids and nothing else”.
    I have yesterday posted a request for a meeting for the parents and have further emailed the PTA however did not get any response yet.
    I encourage all the Kids (who have posted their comments or who have read the same) to inform their parents about these developments as the announcement was made only during the prize-giving ceremony and thus only a few were informed.
    One last comment is why is the renewal being for only one year? As if the issue is resolved, we are going to end up with the same thing just a year later. Why is the renewal not for another full term (i.e. four yrs).

  60. In response to "M" -there is no such thing as a "full term" - of 4 years. This is NOT how principals are recruited - and this is not the way the law works in Sudan either.
    I know Dr Marina well and am fully aware of her business project in Egypt and know that this is not for her own financial gain to stay here. It makes absolutely NO sense at all to request a principal to leave and have NO handover period - I can think of nowhere else that that would happen.
    As far as we are aware there is actually no reason that the Council have given for this decision - as parents why do you not ask the Council for a reason? So far they have been highly praising of everything Dr Marina has done in the school - raising attainment levels and exam results etc.
    Parents do need to know and they need to know now - the school term is nearly over. Do you want your students to return next term to a school in disarray? A school with a principal with no background in IGCSE, a school with a principal with no knowledge of Sudan?
    Keep in mind teachers are walking and none are being recruited. Professionals read this type of forum and simply will not come to a school in this state.

  61. Kamal El Din ElgizouliApril 25, 2011 at 12:42 PM

    Hi Marina
    I'm sorry for the sad news.
    I also hope to see you before you leave.

  62. Thanks for al your kind words of encouragement and support. Of course I cannot stay in Sudan forever and there is a lot of pressure for me to return to Egypt and run my business which I have been neglecting.
    I had hoped to support with the recruitment of an experienced professional and then to work with him/her for a few months until everything was settled. If this was done you would not be in the same position next year as one commentator has suggested.The School Council have recruited someone they feel to be competent but not all the Management would agree that she is. Also the lack of handover period really makes no sense to anyone.
    At this stage I will be unable to offer a handover period because I do not believe the recruitment was done correctly. The newly appointed person has many good quaities which none of us would deny but the lack of any experience of this type of school or of IGCSE is a bigger issue.
    I can stay and would never run away from you, your children or my responsibilities to them. It looks less and less likely that a suitable resolution will be reached and my biggest fear is that the Ministry will take over lock stock and barrel.
    I wish all of you the very best and I offer my continued support from inside or outside of Sudan

  63. It is really sad news to know that Dr. Marina is leaving...although this was expected to happen sometime! I would have loved to see an announced transition period, and a proper handover to the new cadidate...I also did not like the attitude of some staff who "guarantee" school failure next year, instead of wishing the school and our kids more success and cheering us up!!! After all I am sure that there are some people out there who are as qualified (or better) than Dr. Marina and the current staff...It is definitely the school's responsibility to make sure to recruit them in place, on time.

    We wish Dr. Marina all the best in her future life, and with her new business in Egypt, as we wish all the success and best for all the staff who are leaving, and of course all the best for our children whom we mostly care for.

  64. TO BA
    No one said Dr Marina is the best in the world and I am sure she is not trying to propogate that. The staff are not trying to scare us when they imply failure they are just being honest and they know a lot more about what is gong on in the school than we do.You want them to cheer us up by wihing us good luck. I think they ar wishing us luck but are saying we should act and not depend on good luck. I agree with all you say about recruitment and passing on of the job but it was not done and that it sems is why staff is angry. Reading between the lines I think Dr Marina wants to go and does not want to leave our kids in a mess. poor woman. Anyone else would have leftus to get on with it by now. All this talk but does anyone know if the PTA are taking any action.

  65. I just want everyone to know how much Dr. Marina has helped us !! In business, she has given us many experiences that'll help us not only in our education but also in our future =) she has allowed us experiences such as:
    1. Allowing us to observe and experience the school canteen.
    2. Allowing us to experience 'The Hawaiian Dream' where we knew how it's like to have our 'own' business.
    3. Debate about certain issues in class to help, not only our business skills, but also our persuasive techniques.
    4. We also experienced the effect of strikes in a workplace, business and country.
    5. We also wrote our own CVs to give us an idea of what must be included.
    6. We also experienced how it's like to be interviewed when wanting to be employed.
    All of this was done during our business class...which shows how dedicated Dr. Marina is to her students aswell as the business world !! If she can accomplish this in business lessons, she can obviously accomplish much MUCH MORE in the school !! Hana Khalid (Again...) 10z =)

  66. To BA - just to point out no-one is attempting to "guarantee" failure of the school. No-one is saying Dr Marina is indispensable and is the only one for the job. The point is that this decision has been taken in an inexplicable way - the Council have consistently written and stated that she is doing an excellent job yet have taken an abrupt decision to ask her to leave and have decided to employ someone with no IGCSE experience and no background in teaching in Sudan - or a country similar to Sudan.
    I would like to point out also that many of us are leaving here with NO job to go to - some have families to support and no job - that is how strongly we feel about what has happened.
    Parents are the ones who pay the fees, as parents do you not feel you have a RIGHT to know what is happening when it comes to the education of your children?

  67. It is sad to see Dr Marina go. Dr Marina has shown some good qualities while being Headmistress but that doesnt mean that whoever will fill her post will not be able to run the school. We have to remember that this school has been going strong since 1902 and it will continue being even stronger.
    Unity high school isnt dependent on individuals who are not indispensable and that the generations old schooling system will survive regardless of who leads the school.
    The scaremongering that is adopted by this blog may be disappointing for a few parents and even unsettling for our poor children who are going back to school on Monday, soon to take major examinations. However, it will not affect the integrity of the school or its future.
    A parent

  68. Please note: The school Archive is not taking a position but simply allowing others to have a voice over the issue of the departure of Dr. Marina. This Archive is for all the students, ex-students and parents of Unity High School and does not have a political agenda. Also note please that Unity High School did not start in 1902, but in 1928 when Bishop Gwynne raised the money to purchase the building and the land from the CMS who had recently vacated the property and moved to Omdurman. The letter-headings of the school and the founding date on the school gates are incorrect and need to be corrected at some point.

  69. I am a parent of three children who attend Unity high school and was very sad to hear that Dr Marina is leaving. I sincerely, wish her all the best in her future.
    During the school prize giving, Dr Marina has shown a benevolent spirit despite being obviously disheartened by the council's decision. We were all grateful to hear her promise that she would do her best to see our children through their examinations this year and make sure that the transition will not affect the current school year.
    However, reading this blog, last night, gave me a few sleepless hours. Not because Dr Marina is leaving but because of the shocking comments written by some of the teachers. I tried very hard but failed to understand the purpose of these comments which would invariably affect the reputation of the school as well as the morale of the students.
    No one denies that Dr Marina was well qualified to be headmistress at Unity. She also proved herself a very strong character who wasnt afraid to tread on some toes and admittedly, the school was progressing well under her leadership. That doesnt mean that the new head of school will not be able run the school.
    Unity High School was built decades before any of us were born and it has seen numerous heads of school who have all had their contributions.
    I am confident that the new head will also have her positive contributions and impact on this school.
    Alya Faysal, mother of Mustafa, Haneen and Khalid

  70. The school is not what it was 5 years ago. It is now a big international school with results that compare to similar schools around the world. The results five years ago were appalling. Are you sure those Principals all did a good job.Why are you so confident the new head wil make positive contributions. What we are asking as teachers is why did we need a change at this point. The school is only just reaching a satisfactory level and we need at least one more year to embed that. Look already the school cancelled the Nursery, stopped work on SIMS stopped the Secondary Summer school and staff training for the summer. Why? It is not the teachers comments that are affecting the school and student morale but rather the Council's hasty decision which is what the teachers are commenting on. The reputation of the school is going to be affected with decisions like this from a Board who seem to be on their own agenda. The PTA asked to see the Board the Heads of Department asked to see the Board but we all got no response. Why would that be if they are confident the decision is right for the school. The purpose of these comments is simply to save your school. I for one have no job to go to. I also know that Marina is tired now and can't wait to leave. Do you think we want to destroy your school. We do not need to do that your Board has been doing it on and off for years. The question that needs to be asked is why did they do it and not why are teachers commenting.We are trying our best and parents are now attacking us. Time to go teachers as we planned.

  71. Please note: This Archive was put into restricted mode on 25th April 2011 at the request of the Director, Robert Boulos. He believed that some of the contents of the Archive was responsible for the problems that he was facing with parents. The Archive's view is that this is a living history document and that parents, students, ex-students, staff and ex-staff all have a right to not only view but contribute their thoughts on what has happened and what is happening in the school at any time. Sometimes, as in life, circumstances are not as we wish, but hiding those circumstances or hoping that they will go away does not address whatever the problem may be. Open, honest and fair discussion and presentation of information is the only way to resolve difficulties. This is what the Archive has done and intends to continue doing in the future. Apologies for the delay in bringing the Archive back to you.

  72. This comment was emailed in for inclusion on the Archive while it was closed:

    I learned with great surprise the issue of ending Dr. Marina’s assignment with Unity School and the different reactions to this decision by different stakholders within the school.

    As the school did not provide me as a parent with any information on this issue, which I do find very disturbing to me as a parent with two kids studying at the school as well as a previous member of a Governance body of a similar international school, to take such serious decision one expected the board of governance to share more information with school family.

    However, I’m writing to yourself as well as the respected Governance body, who took the decision to shade light on the following issues,

    • It seems there is no enough information from school governing body to inform parents, students as well as workers on the decision and its purpose.
    • There is different reactions from other teachers detesting the decision, and this to me creates a huge managerial gap from the school governing body, as it seems there is no enough consultation and orientation done with teachers on the reasons for not renewing contract/ ending contract / termination, etc
    • It seems that the school is divided into two different opinions and there is lot of emotions around the decision, and this may lead to create instability in the school working environment and if continues will have a negative impact on school progress for sometime to come.

    Meanwhile, I do find the actions taken are creating more problems than anticipated and me as a parent it is my right and my children right to demand the school management to inform us on what is the issue? Why it happened so rapidly? And also to provide me with assurance that this decision is not going to affect the stability of school, be it in short-medium or long-term. Looking forward for your formal response and or feedback on the issues highlighted.

    Best Regards
    Munier Mohammed
    Country Director
    HelpAge Internaitonal
    Khartoum - Sudan

  73. Some thoughts on the current situation of the school:

    In reference to the comments above by Ben Jefferies and others, it is the position of the Unity High School Archive that the issue of the schools Board of Trustees dating back to June 1995 and it's apparent roots in the problems that occurred vis a vis the ownership of KIPS school and the donation made by Princess Anne in 1973 should be exposed and clarified to bring this situation to a positive end for the school and the students in its charge - as it is believed that it is this that is the underpinning reason for the removal of Dr Marina Hitchen from the post of Principal. In view of this, there seems to be an urgent need to resolve this issue before the school falls into the educational abyss that clearly awaits it in the next academic year. As well as the obvious warning signs of impending educational suicide, the hinted-at desire of some to return Unity to the days when it was no more than a base-camp for Christian missionaries is worrying in the extreme. The Ministry of Education will not tolerate this during a time of impending tightening of Sharia Law, nor should they. The Ministry will not return the school keys next time, as they did in 1990 when they seized the school during the brief tenure of Principal Brian Foakes. They are now very aware that the Church does not and never has owned Unity High School and thus they have no fear over confronting the schools governing body as they once had. The offensive and racist views expressed by a visiting ex-member of staff at the recent School Play who was very much key to the recruitment of missionaries to Unity, in relation to the fact that our students are mostly Sudanese and dark skinned should not be allowed to return to Sudan's premiere school. The future for Unity is bleak indeed unless steps are taken to put in place a plan of action to save the school.

    Also in reference to the comment above, the issue of theft and corruption is one that is well known, at least to this Archive. There are now approximately 30 pages of documentary evidence and commentary (being added to all of the time) on this issue uploaded to the Google servers and ready to be released on to this Archive and thus into the public domain. We are at the most critical moment in the history of this school. When Bishop Gwynne opened this school in 1928, there was a sense of euphoria and unabashed enthusiasm over the potential within these walls to bring quality education to its students and thus enhance their journey through life. The comment from one of the School Council members that "If we choose to appoint the guard at the gate to the post of Principal, the staff will just have to live with it", is indicative of the level of concern for the education of our students inherent in the schools governing body. Frankly, the school would be better off with the guard at the gate than the future that is currently looming. The Archive would be very happy to see comments from parents appearing here as well as our students - please send them in as soon as possible.

  74. My favourite comment has to be: "Please note: This Archive was put into restricted mode on 25th April 2011 at the request of the Director, Robert Boulos." Oh it sure was and that it was then closed down as Robert Boulos was in a panic that the outside world would read about all the theft him and his lot have been responsible for over the past couple of decades.
    So Robbie -feel guilty about any of it do you? Sleep easy at night?

  75. For 23 years as a teacher I haven't ever seen such a dedicated principal as Dr.Marina. she was so FAIR to all staff. she made a huge improvement in the whole school both academically and administratively. I have learnt from her a lot.
    I wish to her all the best and a very prosperous life.
    Adil Aziz



  77. I worked for Unity High School during 2008-09 and i thoroughly enjoyed my time there unfortunately i had to leave due to family circumstances back in the Uk otherwise i would still be there! Dr Marina was a fantastic principal, she helped me and my family to settle in and always had an open door policy, she was supportive and loved by staff and students alike! During my time in Sudan i thought of Marina as not only my boss but also my friend it will be a huge shame for UHS if Marina leaves - the school and the students will suffer greatly. Best of luck to you Marina for the future. xx

  78. I AM SO HAPPY TO SEE THIS ARCHIVE ONLINE AGAIN - AND IT MUST NOT BE TAKEN OFF AGAIN..Finally the world can see all the theft, fraud and corruption that has plagued Unity High School for years.
    Lets pray that justice will be served to all those - you know exactly who you are - who have been stealing from this school for years and getting away with it. The school is for the education of students not a cash cow to fund various ventures and projects by certain people.
    I would also like to point out to anyone reading this archive who is thinking of going to work at Unity in the upcoming year. Know you are going to a school where a fantastic principal was fired for no apparent reason - all feedback she had received was positive, where a huge amount of expat staff did NOT receive their final salary settlements before they left Sudan and where the school is under investigation due to the scrapping of a board of trustees by an unrepresentative school council and a director who helps himself to whatever money he can get on a regular basis.
    I was sad to leave Unity due to the wonderful student but on a moral level I found it impossible to consider staying in a school that had a so-called Christian ethos but where "thou shalt not steal" meant absolutely nothing to certain people in the school administration. Shame on you all you know exactly who you are and what you are doing.

  79. Dr. Marina, all i am capable of saying is that the school will be boring and event less in the next few years. we hope the new principal can be handled. Try to come visit us as often as you can and like Reem and Danya said, save us a room in your magnificent hotel in Egypt for when we visit you.
    We will miss you <3

  80. Year Ten StudentMay 20, 2011 at 6:09 PM

    I am SO glad to see the archive back up-I've been checking it every day since it went down!

    Personally as a student who has just completed Year Ten I really can't express how worried I am at the prospect of returning to school with a principal who has zero experience of the IGCSE coursework. Also the fact that so many teachers have left is really upsetting as many of us will have our classes disrupted by the fact that new teachers are taking over halfway through our course. I can tell you that many of my classmates are afraid of failing subjects such as Art where the teacher is ESSENTIAL for success.

    So I really hope that the new principal is capable and that nothing wrong happens to the school. It's such a shame that Dr. Marina is being forced to leave without even supervising a candidate! She has really brought this school up to standard and does not deserve to be treated like this now.

  81. Year 10 students should try to relax because Dr Marina is still trying to find the best teachers she can for the school in spite of the fact that she was treated so badly by the Council and some of the parents. Perhaps Alya Faisal should bear this in mind when she points out how confident she is that the new Principal will have her contributions. So far you are still relying on Dr Marina. Many of the previous Principals nearly finished the school off altogether so I think that you are speaking without information Alya. Even you must see there can be no justification for getting rid of a perfectly good Principal without even a handover period.

  82. Who wrote that the school will be fine regardless of who is leading it. Is it Safwat? He recommends that the guard at the gate would be OK if he says so. No; a parent wrote this.
    Schools as in most walks of life are highly dependent on leadership. Unity is not a workers co-operative.

  83. Unity High School is a wonderful school with a huge potential. Reading this blog reveals how deep and bitter the politics of the school have become. Corruption is a problem in every single aspect of society in Sudan, but it is a disgrace that Unity High School - a school that has the name and at a time the reputation as a school with Christian values - has become so riddled with this corruption. There has been a marked escalation in this problem under Barry Birch and Dr. Marina's era. Whether that is the responsibility of the board, director or head teacher, at times all must be held responsible for the corruption which is now a much deeper problem than it ever was.

    Many of the Sudanese staff have been deeply concerned about both Marina's and Robbie's leadership and and were concerned about the way their position was very much at the capricious whim of Robbie and Marina. So it seems right that a greater balance should be presented by this blog.

    There is no doubt that Marina has brought a rigorous academic colour to the school - well done - this is something that the school really needed. Well done Marina. But a school is more than merely academics - the ethos and values of the school are crucially important - even more so in Sudan. Aspects of our personal lives: our respect for others; our respect for the culture in which we find ourselves; our morality - living a life that is at the very least honorable to ourselves, our family, our nation and our God.

    Having once been a teacher at Unity High School many years ago - I wanted a chance to see an exciting part of the world and experience a different culture for a couple of years - I saw teachers at Unity that had committed large portions of their life to teaching in Khartoum because they loved Unity High School, because they loved Sudan and because they loved the Sudanese. Their love for the place was infectious. This is what I'd love to see again in Unity - teachers who come to Sudan, not beause they want money and not because they couldn't get work or promotion anywhere else, but because they love the school and the country. I'd love to see a board of directors who are not concerned about getting money or cars or other incentives, but who love the school and want the best for it.

    For a new head teacher, for the director and for new teachers I would want to wish you the best and would want you to know that there is still huge potential with Unity School.

  84. Anonymous: You say that you were a teacher at Unity 'many years ago', yet you are making judgements on the school under the leadership of Barry Birch and Dr. Marina as if you have first hand knowledge of the situation in the school. Does this mean that you are basing these judgements on information and opinions held by others who are currently working in the school and have done so under both Barry and Marina?

    You also make a point of morality amongst teachers. It seems that this is something that has from time to time been raised previously in the school - mainly by Sudanese staff - based on rumour and speculation and with no foundation to it. If your positive and appropriate comments in this regard were not based on the heresay rumours that have been circulated within the school, there would be no need to mention it in your otherwise positively phrased comment.

    We all wish to see Unity return to the days when it was whole, unsullied by corruption, where money did not walk out the door in the pockets and under the arms of staff, where students were the priority rather than 'what can I take for myself from here?', and where respect for each other is paramount. The battles that Dr. Marina has had and is having right now to save the school are to return it to the days of Pat Clague when education and a Christian ethos were paramount concerns.

    Thank you for your comment. It would be nice to receive more of the same from others with, like yourself, a real care for the school and its students. Sadly, most involved in the current situation are too busy trying to get what they can out of the school or are burying their heads in the sand and pretending that there is no problem.


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