For Those Seeking Empowerment in Classrooms, Education Cannot Wait in Chad

23 April 2018

A classroom of eager children in Chad ready to learn. (Jesuit Refugee Service)

Ensuring that the most vulnerable have access to education is critical in response to crisis and conflict. Launched in 2016 to address this challenge, Education Cannot Wait is a joint effort from governments, humanitarian actors, and development efforts to deliver a more collaborative and rapid response to the educational needs of children and youth affected by crises.

As an implementing partner of Education Cannot Wait, Jesuit Refugee Service is responsible for executing the fund’s activities in all 12 refugee camps in Eastern Chad. One of these activities is supporting communities to build 33 classrooms, by means of a community construction system.

There are many amazing community members working to build these classrooms. Nourachan, a Sudanese refugee woman and mother of two children living in Chad since 2004, is one of them. She is leading the community construction in the Amnabak camp in Iriba. When violence broke out in her village, Nourachan and her family were forced to flee. In addition to leading construction efforts, Nourachan works as a Primary School Director and is also the President of the Comité de Gestion Scolaire (COGES) in three refugee camps. Nourachan is an example of perseverance and effort. As she says, “To be a woman in a powerful position is very difficult.”

Her main goal is to raise awareness of the importance of community work and to increase the engagement of parents and the education community. The Education Cannot Wait funds to build classrooms will provide a space to education many children, and the construction also provides refugees autonomy. “This is the first step for our independence and autonomy. If one day NGO’s are not here, we will manage our schools,” Nourachan explains. This community construction, is not just a building, but a way for refugee empowerment and self-sufficiency.

Nourachan recognizes that this process has not all been easy and has come with complications and frustrations. In the camps in Chad, socio-cultural traditions and gender roles limit opportunities for refugee women, but she says that “her trick is to have patience and to use logic.” Her husband is a true supporter and he is very happy for her “He does household chores like cooking or cleaning and this is not very usual in the camps.”

Women and community members like Nourachan are critical to JRS’s work in Chad and to Education Cannot Wait.