Chad Table of Contents

The establishment of Protestant mission schools in southern Chad in the 1920s, followed by Roman Catholic and colonial state establishments in later decades, marked the beginning of Western education in Chad. From the outset, the colonial administration required that all instruction be in French, with the exception of religion classes, which could be taught in local languages. As early as 1925, the state imposed a standard curriculum on all institutions wishing official recognition and government subsidies. The state thus extended its influence to education, even though the majority of Chadian students attended private mission schools before World War II.

Education in Chad has focused on primary instruction. Until 1942 students who desired a secular secondary education had to go to schools in Brazzaville, the capital of the AEF. This restriction obviously limited the number of secondary-school students. Between World War I and World War II, only a dozen Chadians studied in Brazzaville. Once in Brazzaville, students received technical instruction rather than a liberal arts education, entering three-year programs designed to produce medical aides, clerks, or low-level technicians. State secondary schools were opened in Chad in 1942, but recognized certificate programs did not begin until the mid-1950s.

At independence in 1960, the government established a goal of universal primary education, and school attendance was made compulsory until age twelve. Nevertheless, the development of standard curricula was hampered by the limited number of schools, the existence of two- and three-year establishments alongside the standard five- and seven-year collèges and lycées, and the Muslim preference for Quranic education. Even so, by the mid-1960s 17 percent of students between the ages of six and eight were in school. This number represented a substantial increase over the 8 percent attending school in the mid-1950s and the 1.4 percent immediately after World War II. Although the academic year in Chad parallels the French schedule, running from October to June, it is not particularly appropriate for a country where the hottest part of the April and May.

Quranic schools throughout the Saharan and sahelian zones teach students to read Arabic and recite Quranic verse. Although traditional Islamic education at the secondary level has existed since the nineteenth century, students seeking advanced learning generally have studied in northern Cameroon, Nigeria, Sudan, or the Middle East. In Chad, modern Islamic secondary schools have included the Ecole Mohamed Illech, founded in 1918 and modeled after Egyptian educational institutions. Other schools included the Lycée Franco-Arabe, founded by the colonial administration in Abéché in 1952. The lycée offered a blend of Arabic, Quranic, and secular French education. Numerous observers believed that although the creation of a French-Islamic program of study was commendable, the administration's major objective was to counter foreign Islamic influence rather than to offer a viable alternative curriculum.

Despite the government's efforts, overall educational levels remained low at the end of the first decade of independence. In 1971 about 88 percent of men and 99 percent of women older than age fifteen could not read, write, or speak French, at the time the only official national language; literacy in Arabic stood at 7.8 percent. In 1982 the overall literacy rate stood at about 15 percent.

Major problems have hindered the development of Chadian education since independence. Financing has been very limited. Public expenditures for education amounted to only 14 percent of the national budget in 1963. Expenditures increased over the next several years but declined at the end of the decade. In 1969 funding for education dropped to 11 percent of the budget; the next year it declined still further to 9 percent. In the late 1980s, the government allotted only about 7 percent of its budget to education, a figure lower than that for all but a few African countries.

Limited facilities and personnel also have made it difficult for the education system to provide adequate instruction. Overcrowding is a major problem; some classes have up 100 students, many of whom are repeaters. In the years just after independence, many primary-school teachers had only marginal qualifications. On the secondary level, the situation was even worse; at the end of the 1960s, for example, the Lycée Ahmad Mangué in Sarh (formerly Fort-Archambault) had only a handful of Chadians among its several dozen faculty members. During these years, Chad lacked sufficient facilities for technical and vocational education to train needed intermediate-level technicians, and there was no university.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Chad made considerable progress in dealing with problems of facilities and personnel. To improve instruction, review sessions and refresher programs have been instituted for primary-school teachers. On the secondary level, increasing numbers of Chadians have taken their places in the ranks of the faculty. Furthermore, during the 1971-72 school year, the Université du Tchad opened its doors.

Another problem at independence was that the French curricula of Chadian schools limited their effectiveness. Primary instruction was in French, although most students did not speak that language when they entered school, and teaching methods and materials were often poorly suited to the rural settings of most schools. In addition, the academic program inherited from the French did not prepare students for employment options in Chad. Beginning in the late 1960s, the government attempted to address these problems. A number of model schools discarded the French-style of a formal, classical education in favor of a new approach that taught children to reinterpret and modify their social and economic environment. Rather than teaching French as it was taught in French schools to French children, the model schools taught it more appropriately as a foreign language. These new schools also introduced basic skills courses in the fourth year of primary school. Students who would probably not go on to secondary school were given the chance to attend agricultural training centers.

Unfortunately, all of the preceeding problems were complicated by a fourth difficulty: the Chadian Civil War. Little has been written specifically about how this conflict has disrupted education, but several effects can reasonably be surmised. Lack of security in vast parts of the country undoubtedly has made it difficult to send teachers to their posts and to maintain them there, which has been particularly Problenatic because as government employees, teachers often have been identified with government policies. In addition, the mobility occasioned by the war has played havoc with attempts to get children to attend classes regularly. The diversion of resources to the conflict has also prevented the government from maintaining the expenditure levels found at independence, much less augmenting available funds. Finally, the violence has taken its toll among teachers, students, and facilities. One of the more dramatic instances of this was the destruction and looting of primary schools, lycées, and even the national archives attached to the Université du Tchad during the battles of N'Djamena in 1979 and 1980.

To its credit, the government has made major efforts to overcome these problems. In 1983 the Ministry of Planning and Reconstruction reported that the opening of the 1982-83 school year was the most successful since the upheavals of 1979. In 1984 the Université du Tchad, the Ecole Nationale d'Administration, and the Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics reopened their doors as well.

In the late 1980s, the Ministry of Education had administrative responsibility for all formal schooling. Because of years of civil strife, however, local communities had assumed many of the ministry's functions, including the construction and maintenance of schools, and payment of teachers' salaries.

Primary Education

In the late 1980s, primary education in Chad consisted of a six-year program leading to an elementary school certificate. In the south, most students began their studies at the age of six; in the north, they tended to be somewhat older. With the exception of schools that followed experimental programs, the curriculum adhered to the French model. Courses included reading, writing, spelling, grammar, mathematics, history, geography, science, and drawing.

Primary-school enrollment for the 1986-87 school year was more than 300,000 students. There were 6,203 instructors teaching in 1,650 schools, but 10 percent of the instructors were in nonteaching positions, yielding a pupil-to-teacher ratio of about sixty to one. Only about 40 percent of all primary-school-aged children attended class, and attendance was much greater in the south than in the Sahel or in the northern parts of the country. Approximately 2.8 percent of primaryschool children were enrolled in private schools, and most of these were in Roman Catholic mission schools concentrated in the south or near the capital.

Secondary Education

In 1983 secondary education in Chad continued to follow French models. Primary-school graduates competed for entrance into two types of liberal arts institutions, the collège d'enseignement général (called a collège, or CEG) or the lycée. The collège offered a four-year course of study, and the lycée offered a seven-year program. In both institutions, students took a general examination at the end of four years. Collège students who passed could be allowed to transfer to a lycée to complete their studies; successful lycée students continued at their institutions. At the end of seven years of secondary education, all students took comprehensive exams for the baccalaureate degree, called the bac, a requirement for admission to a university.

Students with primary-school certificates interested in teaching careers could enroll in a collège or lycée, or they could enter a teacher training school. The normal school program was six years long. The first four years were devoted to general education, much the same as at the collège or lycée, and the last two years concentrated on professional training. Students finishing this course were awarded an elementary-level teaching certificate. In 1986-87 Chad had sixty-one collèges and lycées. More than half of these schools were located in the N'Djamena area. There were 43,357 secondary students enrolled in the 1986-87 school year. In the 1983-84 school year, 5,002 collège students took the exam, with a success rate of 43.5 percent, or 2,174 students; 3,175 students took the bac, and 36.9 percent, or 1,173 students, passed. Although still low, the numbers of examination candidates suggested major improvements over 1960, when 2,000 students attended general secondary schools, and over 1968-69, when enrollment stood at 8,724. Finally, during the 1986-87 school year, Chad had five institutions for training primary-school teachers, with a enrollment of 1,020 students.

Higher Education

When the country became independent in 1960, Chad had no university. For the first decade of the nation's life, students who wished to study beyond the secondary level had to go abroad. In the 1966-67 school year, eighty-three Chadians were studying outside the country; the following year, this number rose to 200. In the early years, almost all students seeking advanced education were male. The largest number went to France (30 percent in the academic year 1966-67, for example), but some Chadians studied in Belgium, Senegal, Côte d'Ivoire, and Congo. At that time, most students were pursuing degrees in education, liberal arts, agriculture, and medicine.

Pursuant to an agreement with France, the Université du Tchad opened in the 1971-72 academic year. Financed almost entirely through French assistance, the faculty of 25 welcomed 200 students the first year. By the 1974-75 academic year, enrollment had climbed to 500, and the university graduated its first class of 45. The imposition of compulsory yondo rites greatly disrupted the following school year, but after the overthrow of Tombalbaye and the end of the authenticité movement, the university continued to grow. Enrollment rose from 639 in 1976-77 to a high of 1,046 in 1977-78. Enrollment then dropped slightly to 974 in 1978-79. Unfortunately, the Chadian Civil War curtailed university activities in 1979 and 1980, when the first and second battles of N'Djamena threatened facilities and students alike. With the return of relative calm in the early 1980s, the university reopened. In 1983-84 the university had 141 teachers and 1,643 students.

In addition to the university, higher learning in Chad included one advanced teacher--training institution, the Ecole Normale Supérieure, which trained secondary-school instructors. Enrollment in the 1982-83 and 1983-84 school years came to about 200 students. Degree programs included history-geography, modern literature, English and French, Arabic and French, mathematics and physics, and biology-geology-chemistry.

Vocational Education

In 1983 vocational education was offered at three lycées techniques industrielles (in Sarh, N'Djamena, and Moundou), and the Collège d'Enseignement Technique in Sarh. Enrollment figures for three of the four technical schools stood at 1,490 in 1983.

Primary-school graduates interested in technical or vocational training could follow two courses. They either could enter a firstlevel , three-year program (première cycle) at a collège (after which they could transfer to one of the four technical schools) or they could enroll directly in one of the lycées for a six-year program. Students completing the three-year première cycle received professional aptitude certificates; those finishing the entire six-year course were awarded diploma.

Apart from the lycées techniques, several other institutions offered vocational training in Chad in the early 1980s. These included the Ecole Nationale d'Administration, which opened in 1963 in N'Djamena; a postal and telecommunications school in Sarh; a school for technical education related to public works; and the Ba-Illi agricultural school. Other Chadians studied at technical training centers abroad.

In the late 1980s, advanced medical education was not available in Chad. The only medical training institution was the National School of Public Health and Social Work (Ecole Nationale de Santé Publique et de Service Social--ENSPSS) in N'Djamena. Its enrollment, however, has been very limited; in 1982 there were only twenty-eight students in nursing, three in social work, and thirtythree in public health.

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Source: U.S. Library of Congress