In Chad, Nigerian refugees discover education for the first time

By Badre Bahaji

Bagasola, CHAD, March 3, 2016 – “I never had the chance to go to school. I am very happy to learn new things every day. I love mathematics,” says Aisha Mahamat, 15.


This young Nigerian refugee in Chad was married when she was 13 years old. She is now divorced and mother of a child. She lives with her mother and son in Dar es Salam refugee camp, in the Lake region of Chad. For the first time in her life she is realizing her dream: to go to school.

“Now, I have the opportunity to study. My son, Aboukar, stays with my mother when I am in class,” she explains with a proud smile.

Bello Ali is a 10-year-old energetic kid. He was born in Nigeria, in a village alongside Lake Chad. “My father is a herder. I was not going to school as I was always with our cattle,” he explains. “Today, it is the first time I study. I love it.”


Bello never misses a class at school. “I don’t want to do like my father. I want to study to become a soldier, but not to wage war. I want to protect others,” he says.

On the morning of January 3, 2015, Ibrahim Adamu’s small town came under attack. He was forced to flee his home alone, leaving behind his grandmother who was unable to make the journey. He’s now living with a host family in Daresalam Refugee camp.


Ibrahim, 10, is now going to school for the first time and started a new journey to discover letters and numbers. “When I arrived, I did not want to go to school, I was scared. But now I got used to it and I hope to learn to read and write” he said.

Jumpstarting education

In Chad, close to 75,000 people[1] have been displaced due to the violence in the Lake region and are now living in refugee and internal displaced camps. This movement of people has put additional pressure on the already fragile education system. Owing to insecurity, 30 percent of the existing public schools closed down.

In emergency situation, getting children back to school is a quick win. School can facilitate return to normalcy and provide the stability, structure and routine that children need to cope with loss, fear, stress and violence.

As of January 2016, more than 11,000 children were enrolled in 56 schools in areas affected by the emergency in the Lake Region. With financial from the United Nation’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF)[2], UNICEF has been able to rehabilitate and build 34 classrooms, train teachers and provide learning and recreation materials for 30,000 children. In addition, 12,000 girls have received dignity kits to meet their hygiene needs.

Between 2015 and 2016, UNICEF Chad received close to USD 3,000,000 from the UN CERF to support health care, nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene and protection interventions for refugees, internally displaced people, returnees and host population affected by the Nigerian crisis in the Lake Region of Chad.

By attending temporary schools, Ibrahim, Bello, Aisha and other refugee children can focus on their dreams and their future.

[1] Over 6250 refugees, 11 000 returnees and 56 000 IDPs affected by ongoing violence in Lake Region of Chad.

[2] A total of USD 700,000 allocated to Education activities.


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