At Fourkoulom school, in Lake Chad province, the school never closes.
When children go home after the regular courses, the director and deputy director of the center continue to teach to 100 girls and young women, ages 12 to 25 years old. Most of them have either previously dropped out of school, or never even had the opportunity to attend.
Over 20 additional community members, such as young boys, elderly women, or middle-aged men, have also requested to join, aware of the importance of education.
This initiative belongs to Entreculturas’ Luz de las Niñas (LdN) campaign, and it is organized in the field by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Chad.
Hadidja is 18 and sells juices on the market days. She is one of the students of JRS literacy courses.
“At the age of 7 or 8 years old, I quit school because there was a teacher who used to insult me. He gave me a bad score at school, so I felt discouraged and decided to drop-out
My parents did not tell me anything and did not force me to go back because I worked in the field with them. I didn’t have the time to study. I started selling juice in the market too.
Two years ago, my family and I left my village because Boko Haram attacked my village. In Fourkouloum camp, two friends told me about JRS’ literacy courses. I decided to assist to learn to read and write.
Before, it was hard for me. I knew nothing. Nowadays I know how to calculate and write well. I also started understanding the money notes, calculating, and even greeting in French. This course improves us each day. There are many women [in class] who never went to school, now they understand the importance of school. In Fourkouloum I saw people are interested in education, so I started to be interested too.
I want to go back to school and become a doctor.”
20 years old, Hadja works at home and attends JRS literacy courses.
“When I was 10, I stopped going to school because we were forced to flee our village due to Boko Haram. I never returned to school because I was not interested. My father did not encourage me [to study] either and I only did the domestic work at home because we had lost our mother. I was alone with my father and had to take care of my brothers and sisters.
I first heard about the course when the teachers went door-to-door encouraging [girls] to enroll in it. I decided to come to JRS’ literacy courses to learn French. My husband also encouraged me. We got married three years ago. He said that, for example, if women create an association, it is important we are educated.
I am very happy to be able to come to the JRS course. I work at home during the day. My younger sister prepares food in the afternoon so I can come to class. If I have the time, I study at home too. I sometimes struggle with writing and calculating. I think it is very interesting to be in class with people from different ages. Knowledge has no age.
In the future, I want to go to school and become a teacher.”
The deputy director at Fourkouloum school and one of the teachers of JRS literacy course.
“It is crucial for women to be literate (speaking in public, reading, calculating…) to be able to success in their activities, such as agriculture.
Most of women attending the literacy courses are married or divorced. They are very motivated. They stopped going to school because their families married them.
Other women and community members also asked to assist to the courses, and we allowed them to be in class. Girls must continue their studies. They have the same right to have an education as the boys. If they don’t go to school, they will struggle in their families, or they are exposed to early marriages.”
The director at Fourkouloum school and one of the teachers of JRS literacy courses.
“Parents had already requested me to organize literacy courses at school.
Many people come to the classes. Since April, they know already how to read and write. If we continue like this, there will be a big change in the [refugee] camp.
There is a big demand of alphabetization courses. We would like to have an extra teacher to allow more students to come.”
Mr. Kumbou is one of the village leaders (also called Blama) and a JRS Focal Point at Fourkouloum site. He asked JRS to allow him to also participate in the literacy courses.
“I never went to school and now I attend JRS literacy courses. It is helping me in my business, because it is not easy if you don’t speak French.
We [our generation] didn’t go to school. Now, children are educated, and you can see their ideas are very different than those of their parents.”
Visit the picture gallery to discover more about the project.
Originally published by JRS USA.