N’DJAMENA, Chad — Known as “The Dead Heart of Africa,” Chad is a land-locked country rendered economically deficient due to half a century of civil war. The heftiest consequences of the wars have fallen on education in Chad.
In 2012, only nine percent of high school-age students passed the country’s baccalauréat (French-modeled) exam.
Assessing how the education system arrived at this low point is a chief concern.
Eighty percent of the community-based public schools are located in rural areas, and 67 percent of the national student population attends these schools. Seventy percent of the educational workforce is made up of unaccredited teachers and temporary staff. In addition, the teachers are subject to over-crowded, poorly structured buildings.
Some teachers are responsible for overseeing as many as 200 students per class.
“The fact that failure rates are so high means our teachers are also bad,” said a student at the University of N’Djamena in Chad. “Chadian children cannot possibly be that mediocre.”
Teachers equipped with third year material are often expected to teach fifth year students. Due to low salaries and unjustified promotions, better qualified teachers are hard to find and even harder to keep.
Chad ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child law, but the current cultural norms pose a hindrance to proper results. Primary school is mandatory, yet just over 34 percent of children nationwide were registered in 2004. Parents sell secondary school textbooks in the markets for money to survive, and some children begin working immediately after primary school.
In addition, children are abused physically, financially and sexually in schools in order to ‘pass.’
The conditions of those not in school can range from forced labor, child marriages, soldier recruitment, becoming a ‘street child’, child trafficking and for women in Eastern Chad, physical mutilation is a possible reality.
The Chadian government spends only 2 percent of its national gross domestic product towards education; this is one of the lowest levels in the world.
President Idriss Déby called for a forum to discuss the Chadian education system. The conclusion: the system is in a disastrous state.
According to Itno, a “rebirth of the Chadian education system” is needed. He promised to double the allocated budget toward education and construct new schools while providing maintenance of others, along with other improvements.
“Yet these efforts have ultimately constituted a stab in the dark since the proposed solutions, identified and pursued by those at the top, are disconnected from the growing demands of the sector itself,” said Rachel Kagbe, a Chadian journalist.
While many children are enthusiastic about education, dumping money into schools will not help them.
“I cannot imagine life without school, studying opens my eyes and mind and is my path to the future,” said a young Chadian girl who dreams to be a doctor.
The lives of these children and their futures are at stake, yet it does not look as though a solution will be found soon. The Chadian government needs to focus on identifying the issues and resolving them.
With every wasted life, the chance to provide the pulse of a developing movement becomes bleaker and bleaker.
– Ashley Riley