UNHCR – Sudanese refugees in Chad face challenges securing education Donate

By Cédric Kalonji in Kouchagine-Moura refugee camp, Chad | September 12, 2022

Sudanese refugee Assaniah Ahmad Hussein teaches an outdoor class at Kouchaguine-Moura refugee camp in eastern Chad. © UNHCR/Colin Delfosse

It is only 7:30 a.m. in the Kouchagine-Moura refugee camp, near the border between Chad and Sudan, and yet the thermometer is already approaching 40°C.

Despite the heat, dozens of children gather, take off their shoes and sit on a large carpet in the shade of a leafless acacia. In front of a large blackboard leaning against the trunk, a young woman in a flowing pink dress and headscarf greets the children and motions for them to sit down.

Assaniah Ahmad Hussein, 28, is a teacher at Alnour school – one of two schools in the camp – at the head of a class of more than 100 children aged 5 to 7 years old. Originally from Gnouri in the Darfur region of Sudan, Assaniah arrived in Kouchagine-Moura just over two years ago with her husband and son after fleeing inter-communal violence.

Trained as a psychologist, she attaches great importance to learning, which she considers a bulwark against conflict and extremism.

“My journey has been marked by repeated and indiscriminate violence which, in my opinion, is the fruit of ignorance,” she says. “I am convinced that access to education and knowledge for children will help break the cycle of violence in Darfur.

Sudanese refugees and their hosts in Chad face challenges in providing education

Sudanese refugees and their hosts in Chad face challenges in providing education (Mary Theru, producer / Arnold Temple, videographer/editor)

Kouchagine-Moura camp hosts around 14,000 Sudanese refugees who have fled fighting in Darfur since February 2020. In addition to hosting and protecting refugees, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency and partners ensure children’s access to education through their inclusion in the Chadian national system. education system, and providing infrastructure and materials.

The agency oversaw the construction of two schools that can accommodate 2,500 students, with 24 latrines, two solar boreholes and four staff rooms. In collaboration with the Jesuit Refugee Service, UNHCR trained a team of 39 teachers drawn from the refugee and host community.

The camp also offers an accelerated education and literacy program for young people aged 12 to 23, which currently includes 108 refugee girls and 61 boys who have never attended school.

But despite these investments, as the camp continues to grow – with nearly 4,000 new arrivals since the start of the year – staff point to the challenges they still face. The average primary class size is 163 students and 10 of the 17 classrooms in the two schools are outdoors due to lack of available space.

Chad.  School in Kouchaguine-Moura camp still overflowing despite new classrooms

Sudanese schoolchildren attend an outdoor lesson at the Kouchaguine-Moura refugee camp in eastern Chad. Despite new buildings, the camp school does not have enough classrooms for all the children. © UNHCR/Colin Delfosse

Over the past few years, Chad has become one of the most inclusive countries in the world when it comes to refugee education. In the 2020-2021 school year, more than 100,000 young refugees were in school – more than ever before.

However, with renewed conflict across the border in Sudan forcing more people to seek refuge in Chad, pressure on an already overburdened system is expected to increase. The main factor preventing UNHCR and other UN and NGO partners from scaling up their response is a critical lack of funding, with the $510 million Chad Humanitarian Response Plan 2022 only funded at 22%. The education component of this plan received only $2 million of the $34 million needed to meet the needs of refugee children.

Beyond capacity constraints, teachers are also mindful of the risks of absenteeism due to the precarious living conditions faced by many families in the camp, as Brahim Tahir Arabi, a Chadian teacher from the host community points out. .

“We have to make sure that children have a healthy and balanced diet,” he says. “Some students don’t come to school because they don’t have proper shoes or clothes.”

For Assaniah, building new classrooms is the top priority. “While trees provide shade, they are not as effective in protecting students during the rainy season,” she says.

Nonetheless, his outdoor classroom remains a valuable place to learn, with the children paying close attention to their teacher’s words. “It’s a place to teach and guide,” says Assaniah. “From the youngest to the oldest, the children are in harmony, as if they all had the same mother and the same father. There is no disagreement – ​​we are all refugees.

This article is published ahead of UNHCR’s 2022 Refugee Education Report, which will be released on September 13. The report is part of the UN Refugee Agency’s participation in the Transforming Education Summit, which will take place this year during the UN General Assembly.

For more information on UNHCR’s education work, please contact:

• Becky Telford, [email protected]

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