SEATTLE, Washington — Chad is one of the poorest countries in Africa. Poverty brings many challenges to a country especially in regards to education. According to SOS Projects, there are three problems facing education in Chad: a shortage of qualified teachers, lack of government spending and increased government instability.
Civil war has been rampant in Chad for years which has forced many people to leave the country, including many teachers. This has led to overcrowded schools where a typical classroom can range from 50 to 100 students. Very few secondary schools exist, and new teachers are not entering the market fast enough to alleviate this problem.
In 2012, Chad joined the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) to look at outside options to improve the teacher shortage and shore up other resources. The GPE was able to raise $54 million to be used throughout the country to train more teachers, build more schools, provide free meals for students, and buy new textbooks.
In just two years, the GPE made sizeable progress with the funds available to them. Among the improvements were 221 new classrooms, 214,360 student meals, 514 extra local teachers, and 1.6 million teaching guides and student handbooks.
Historically, Chad’s economy has been focused on mining and agriculture, which hasn’t done much to spur economic activity. With slow economic growth, Chad couldn’t afford to adequately fund its education system. The government currently spends 2.3 percent of its budget on education, lower than comparable sub-Saharan African countries.
Unfortunately, it is difficult to obtain actual budget information for Chad. A recent open budget survey ranked Chad the lowest in transparency with a score of 5 out of 100. The average for the region is 35.
In 2000 a new economic opportunity was presented that could have done much to economic prospects and education in Chad. Chad’s oil reserves were made available to a larger market through an oil pipeline connecting the reserves in Chad through Cameroon to the Atlantic Ocean. This was built with the support of the World Bank on one condition, which was that 80 percent of revenues had to be spent on priority social sectors such as healthcare and education.
The pipeline was finished in 2003 and for its first three years, oil revenues were allocated properly. Then, in 2006, the president amended the law to reallocate oil revenues to the purchase of weapons and equipment for the national army. With this change in law, additional education funding essentially stopped. There were also anti-corruption measures with which Chad had to comply, but failed this in a 2009 audit with the World Bank. The pipeline agreement was discarded, and now the spending of oil revenues is completely unregulated.
Despite these challenges, further improvements are planned. UNICEF has paired up with GPE to extend education resources to nearly one million additional students. The partnership will be building almost 1600 new classrooms, training more teachers and providing books and resources to students and teachers. With ongoing international support and despite an ambivalent government, education in Chad can be elevated in pursuit of a fair chance for all.
– Brian Faust