May 2011 - Chad
As the school year comes to an end in the Chad refugee camps, the time has come to assess the projects’ progress and to think about their continuation. As a part of this assessment, George Kihara Thang’wa – RET Regional Programme Manager for Africa – devoted the second part of May visiting Chad projects and meeting with the beneficiaries, partners and local authorities.
In order to work on the next steps of the programme, open discussions with the students, their parents and community members have been pivotal in understanding how education is perceived so far by both the direct and indirect beneficiaries. Over the past five years since the programme’s inception in Chad, the RET has learned that the provision of education has gradually become more and more important to the refugee community. A Treguine camp student reveals proudly that the opportunity he has been given to obtain a Sudanese accredited certificate makes him feel equal to any Sudanese students in his country.
“The emphasis put on education within the camps appears particularly obvious when we observe the relentless increase in female enrolment,” highlights George. At the RET centre in the Goz Amir camp, a teacher explained that, year after year, encouraged by the learning success of their female colleagues, a great amount of girls’ self-support has taken place in the camp. This has resulted in more females attending school for literacy and numeracy courses and secondary education. A young female student, in the Djabal camp RET centre, gave the key to this keen interest, “we all understood that tools acquired through education are timeless and that they will lead us to a better life – as wives, as mothers and as women.”
George also observed how education is now understood by the refugees as part of a global effort towards human security. When he asked the students if they would today fight with a firearm or with a pen, they clearly stated that they would use a non-violent approach to defend their fundamental rights. It appears that today, the beneficiaries comprehend the educational process as part of a long-term protection endeavour and the dawn of the feeling of empowerment to contribute to Darfour’s development and peace process. A teacher working in the Treguine camp reckoned that “knowledge and social inclusion efforts are giving the youth other means to understand conflicts and to avoid violence.” Ousman, Assistant Programme Manager commented “this is a very good point, but let us not forget that these seeds need to be cultivated.”
During his visit to the projects, George was pleased to notice how great have been the achievements so far – both in the centres’ capacities to provide quality education and in the refugees’ understanding of the potential for peace that results from such schooling. “University studies now constitute our next goal,” confess several students throughout the camps. This ambition reveals, more than anything else, the appetite for knowledge and the need for it to be fulfilled.