“I believe girls and boys can equally succeed in school. We have women ministers, lawyers and doctors? Why not me?” Ashta Saleh lives in Gadjira near Mongo in Central Chad. This bright 12-years old girl aspires to a better future for herself and her community. « Traditionally, we are herders and farmers. Nobody around me has ever been school. I would like to be the first educated girl in the family, » she says. « I hope to continue my studies up to university to become an educated woman”.
“For my family, schooling is important, even for a girl. If I was not going to school, I would get bored. Some of my neighbors don’t go to school. They think it’s too late for them. I think that we should not miss the opportunity to learn,” Ashta said, before entering the class again.
The Gadjira public school got a fresh boost thanks to the Project of Revitalizing Basic Education in Chad (PREBAT) supported by Educate A Child. « Before the construction of the new classrooms, we used to seat on the floor in huts built of straw. After every windstorm, we had to repair them. Worse, during dry season, cows and goats used to disturb us as they were eating the straw of the school huts. We had to chase them ourselves, » says Ashta, smiling.
« In my school, the construction of two new classrooms and the distribution of learning materials prompted parents to massively enroll children. We passed from 240 to 350 children in one school year! There are still more boys than girls but we continue to raise awareness with the parents,” Amita, Amdjibaye, headmaster of the Gadjira Public School.
Started in 2013, the GPE-EAC co-funded project has gradually enhanced the intake capacity of primary schools, through the construction and equipment of over 1,500 classrooms making it possible for primary school children to study in an improved physical learning environment.
In Chad, education can nourish young minds, expand horizons and break the cycle of poverty. Education empowers girls to seek better health care during pregnancy, in childbirth and during their children’s early years. The results are reflected in lower levels of under-five mortality, improved health-care practices and later marriage. Children – especially girls – born to educated mothers are more likely to attend school, resulting in a cycle of opportunity that extends across generations.
Enrolment in primary education has continued to rise in Chad, but the pace of progress is slow. Around 50 per cent of children do not go to primary school and, for those in school, only one in four completes primary education. Schools are overcrowded and understaffed, with only 30 per cent of teachers properly qualified. Less than 20 per cent of children know how to read, write and do basic math by the time they leave primary school.
To overcome these challenges, the government, with the support of its partners including Educate A Child, is implementing a major program to strengthen basic education. Since 2013, the GPE-EAC co-funded project has gradually supported 290 primary schools, through the construction and equipment of 1,324 classrooms making it possible for some previously out-of-school 80,000 primary school age children to study in better conditions. In 2017, over 16,000 out-of-school children (OOSC) including 6,900 girls were newly enrolled.