N’DJAMEMA, Chad, May 16, 2022 — For years, the people of Kondjala had been longing for a real school. In this small village near Goré, situated some 600 kilometers to the south of N’Djamena, construction had begun on three school buildings to replace the straw hut which until then had been used to accommodate primary school students. As a result of the oil crisis that shook the country’s economy in 2014, construction was discontinued and the school building was left without a roof.
“We had to use the limited means available to us to cobble together straw roofs for the unfinished buildings to shelter the children from the elements,” explains the principal, Bekainyogoto Esaïe. “It was a real ordeal. ”
A little less than two years ago, the Refugees and Host Communities Support Project (PARCA), which is financed by the World Bank, launched a comprehensive program for the renovation and modernization of schools in the Nya Pendé region.The schools are now equipped with toilets and water fountains.
The students are delighted. In Kondjala, 500 children began the new school year in the six new classrooms housed in three buildings. “Now I can hear the teacher much better when he is speaking. Before, his voice did not carry very well, because we were out in the open,” says 13-year-old Abdou Djikoloum, who is in CM2 (the last year of primary school). Berthe Tarndodjim is 15 and also in CM2. She admits to feeling “more relaxed and secure, now that the school has modern toilets.” The teachers have welcomed the changes: “The students have gained confidence, and this is encouraging for us as educators,” says Neyam Roselle, a teacher in Kondjala for the past 13 years.
The school in the neighboring town of Goré has also been revamped. Built in the 1960s, the only school in the town center “was in a woeful state of disrepair,” notes Jacob Koumtog, a departmental education inspector. The two buildings, which dated back to the colonial period, had collapsed. However, the premises were being used by the Ministry of Education of Chad as a management training center. “Reconstruction didn’t begin until the 2000s, but unfortunately the repairs were still not completed,” adds Nodjigoto Ilom, the mayor of the town.
Thanks to the renovation carried out by PARCA, three buildings housing 1,500 students in seven classrooms have recently been refurbished. “This is such a relief, because with the recent arrival of 400 children from refugee communities and Chadian refugee families that have returned to the country, it was becoming increasingly difficult to find space,” notes Djenom Yobatna, principal of the school.
In the coming months, the project will build additional facilities, including new schools, water towers, and clinics, as demand for social services and new infrastructure is skyrocketing in Nya Pendé. In addition to the 150,000 refugees who have already settled in Chad, others continue to arrive from the Central African Republic.