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Chad: providing education to refugees from Darfur
August 14, 2013

Chad: providing education to refugees from Darfur
Desks for students (30 in Milé and 30 in Kounougou) were distributed in January. The desks are a significant improvement for students who used to sit on the floor. (Jesuit Refugee Service Chad)
"The secondary schools in Milé and Kounougou are now well equipped with computers, generators, desks for students, chairs for teachers; and the new classrooms in Milé have solar power. The refugees often thank us for these materials. They feel more self-reliant, and it motivates teachers and students to do their work well." ~ Jean Guy Kwuimi, Program Officer for JRS Chad.
(Washington, D.C.) August 14, 2013 — Utilizing a grant from the U.S. State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, Jesuit Refugee Service/USA and our colleagues in the Jesuit Refugee Service West Africa Region are providing secondary education to refugees in two camps in Chad. The refugees are from Sudan's volatile Darfur region.

The program provides education for refugee youth in grades nine, 10 and 11 in the Milé and Kounougou refugee camps. At the end of 2012, there were 250 students enrolled in secondary education at Kounougou and Mile camps. The camp breakdown of enrollment:  143 students (50 girls, 93 boys) in Milé and 107 students (49 girls, 58 boys) in Kounougou.

As the school system for Sudanese refugees in Chad has mirrored the Sudanese education curriculum, appropriate Sudanese textbooks were purchased for all enrolled students. Every student also received notebooks, pens and other necessary supplies, including uniforms. A curriculum change in the schools of refugee camps of eastern Chad is under way and schools will adopt the Chadian curriculum, per UNHCR's 2013-2016 Strategy for Education of Refugees in Chad. The change will occur during the 2014-2015 school year.

"The students say they are very happy to have their own uniforms because they can wear them for school instead of their personal clothes," said Jean Guy Kwuimi, Program Officer for JRS Chad. 

"The students at the primary school wear a blue uniform. The secondary school students are proud to have their own white and brown uniforms, different from the primary school," he said.

In January, 161 special chargeable lamps were distributed to students in grades 10 and 11 (boys and girls), and to the girls in grade nine, to help them study in the evening. The program was unable to procure enough lamps to distribute to the boys in grade nine.

While the security situation around the refugee camps is generally calm, all educational activities are geared in part at offering protection for the youth in the camps. When refugees in camps have constructive activities like education, it fosters hope for a better future. Reducing the enforced idleness that comes with camp life mitigates the temptation to join fighting groups that are still active in Chad and Sudan.

A new building was constructed from April through June, adding four new classrooms and a library to the Milé Secondary School. Electrical connections for lights and computers enable the school to hold both computer classes and classes in the evening.

Desks for students (30 in Milé and 30 in Kounougou), chairs for teachers (16 in Milé and 12 in Kounougou), and blackboards for the Milé school were distributed in January. The teachers hung the two blackboards in Milé. The desks are a significant improvement for students who used to sit on the floor. 

"The secondary schools in Milé and Kounougou are now well equipped with computers, generators, desks for students, chairs for teachers; and the new classrooms in Milé have solar power. The refugees often thank us for these materials. They feel more self-reliant, and it motivates teachers and students to do their work well," said Kwuimi.

There are increased numbers of students completing primary school, so the demand for secondary school will be higher in the 2013—2014 school year. JRS anticipates 541 students will attend Milé and Kounougou Secondary Schools in the coming school year.

Related storyShared moments as two worlds meet in Chad
Related videoStudent refugees from Darfur attending a JRS school talk about their hopes for the future


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