“We intend one day to bring the fruit of our education back to our home country – Sudan – to support its development and to assure a better future,” several male and female students sing together. This performance is part of the RET centre’s Bredjing camp graduation ceremony on the 10th of May 2011. 115 students and hundreds of people from the camp and the surrounding villages attended the celebration. In the presence of relatives, friends, partner NGOs, local officials and community chiefs, the students received accredited certificates from three different programmes. 40 students obtained Secondary Education through Distance Learning (SEDL) degrees, 60 candidates received Grade 8 diplomas, and the French language DELF certificate was granted to 15 people. The ceremony not only marked the end of a learning cycle, it triggered a new life phase comprised of hope and confidence.
Alcheikh Adam Abdallah, 25 years old, has just been awarded the SEDL certificate enabling him to pursue university level studies. “Today is the day I have been awaiting for a long time now.” underlines the keen student. While SEDL candidates are pedagogically accompanied by subject animators, the exam requires students to study on their own and to be extremely diligent. Therefore, Alcheikh expresses his contentment: “for months we studied all the subjects in groups and I am glad now that our efforts have paid off.” Euphoric, one of his course mates mentions that the ceremony is foremost a family celebration. “We all feel that our family’s encouragement and support have been important in our success,” proclaims the student.
In addition to the joy of the day, this celebration is of fundamental importance in granting centre stage to education and in presenting the programmes and course centre to the camp community. “This type of event makes sense in both congratulating student graduates and in encouraging families to do their best to allow it to happen again in future years,” pronounces Ousman, one of the RET assistant programme managers. As the RET Chad office has observed, year after year, the graduation ceremonies are conducive to creating a general feeling of motivation which lasts for months. “I am now an example of achievement for my younger brothers and sisters and I am sure this will contribute to their own school success,” explains Alcheikh proudly. The Bredjing education delegate took pleasure in pointing out that “this event establishes a relation of trust with the camp families and, as you have observed, it can stimulate them to send their girls to school.” The spillover effects of such a ceremony are, therefore numerous, and they are as important as the regular sensitization work done by the RET staff throughout the year.
Between the formality of the ceremony and the exclamations of glee, a singular story is emerging. A young girl graduating from Grade 8 receives compliments from her father who received his Grade 8 certificate at last year’s ceremony. Education is definitely becoming a family matter.