By Davy Takendjilembaye
Moundou, Chad’s second city has several private and public schools where children enjoy studying. In town, most schools have real classrooms, tables and benches. Yet, a few kilometers from the economic capital of the country, in the countryside, the reality is totally different. Existing schools are made in clay, overcrowded and understaffed. Teachers or schoolchildren are not effectively equipped for their work, the classrooms are very damaged and the learners work without textbooks.
A few months ago, something has changed in Mbalkabra, a remoted village surrounded by vegetation and mango trees. A new school under construction is awaited by children, impatiently. Mbailassem Gerard is 11. He seems very curious, intelligent and really excited to go to school now: « I am very happy to study in the new classrooms. They have doors, windows and most important tables and benches. Last year we were studying under a straw hut, » he described.
Observing what used to be their classroom, it is difficult to imagine children studying in such conditions. « During the class, when the wind blew, we could not even hear what the teacher was saying, I did not want to go to school anymore, » adds Gerard.
Mr Djetodjide Kembaye, the principal of the school shares his impressions, proudly watching his new school: « The learning conditions were really difficult, the students used bricks as benches to study. It was difficult to convince parents to enroll their children, especially girls, in these conditions. »
For the 2015-2016 school year, children of Mbalkabra will finally enjoy ten new classrooms, latrines and will receive school kits. Smiling, Gerard says: « Now that I know that will spend the year in good conditions, I would do anything to be first in my class! “. The principal smiles: “Gerard and his classmates have understood that education is the engine of success. Their courage and determination are the first steps to a brighter future for the children of Chad“ he concludes.
These new buildings are the result of the support of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and Educate A Child (EAC), two partners supporting the Revitalization Project of Basic Education in Chad (PREBAT), aiming to increase access to quality basic education for one million children in Chad. With nearly a thousand schools built in two years, more and more children have now access to basic education and improved learning conditions.
With the support of GPE and EAC, UNICEF will build a total of 1,600 additional classrooms in targeted schools in 11 regions. Where appropriate and feasible, eco-friendly insulation materials are used to help keep indoor temperatures down – important in a country like Chad, where temperatures can reach 50ºC (122ºF). UNICEF is also constructing hundreds of boreholes and latrines. In addition to the training of teachers, UNICEF is also providing teaching and learning materials, with millions of reading books and teachers’ guides distributed across the country.