Education, Peace and Conflict Prevention in Chad
Global Newsletter – January 2012 (Chad) – After almost seven years of activities in Eastern Chad, the RET has provided education to hundreds of students, and it has borne witness to the development of ideas of peace of self-esteem and of conflict resolution in the discourses and daily practices of both students and teachers. “The confidence and perspectives, that even basic literacy knowledge can bring to refugee students, are priceless,” comments Adam Mahamat Issa, Programme Assistant. Enabling refugee youth to benefit from a coherent education programme is primarily about protecting them as both individuals and political agents.
Halima Azene Rahama fled Darfur because of the ongoing conflicts. After having settled down in Farchana camp, she learned literacy and numeracy in the two-year RET Life Skills programme. In conversation, she mentions how merely modest knowledge helps local refugees to understand each other when it comes to establishing sales contracts or to planning rural activities. “As we are now all able to address opportunities and issues in a different way and to keep track of them, I have observed that we now have more harmony between us all,” reveals Halima.
After having taken the two-year Life Skills course, the 30-year old student Mahassine Ahmat Abdallah notices how education has empowered her as a woman within the camp: “In the local society, I can assert myself differently, and I assume more responsibility both as a mother and wife.”
“While education has provided me with proper tools to defend my rights, illiteracy would have jeopardised not only me, but my family as well,” emphasizes Zeynep Dafa Alah Oumar. She is now part of the student cohort who will sit for the Grade 8 accredited exam in June 2012. Zeynep confesses that the Grade 8 accreditation opportunity offered by the RET is “a major bridge to achieve peace in the Darfur area.” “In fact, obtaining the Grade 8 certificate – which is recognised in Sudan – not only encourages us to learn more, it creates long-term perspectives, which motivate the students to become teachers, doctors or engineers themselves and, subsequently, to contribute to peace-oriented mindsets,” explains the mother of six children. The RET’s organisation of the Grade 8 exam also acts as a factor of retention and protection of the students within the camps, because it prevents reckless candidates from crossing the Chadian/Sudanese border to return to their home region in Darfur to sit for the exam. In essence, by offering the Grade 8 exams in the camps, the RET is able to protect and save the young students from being recruited into local armed groups in Darfur.
The 27 year-old Grade 8 student Salah Hamid is convinced that war in Darfur has mainly been the consequence of an obvious lack of education in the region. “Therefore, I know that the day we return to Darfur, all the educated people will help in the writing of a new page for our people far from the war we knew,” he envisions proudly. “A page as white as a dove’s feathers, we all hope.”