Jesuit Entity’s Literacy Program in Chad Empowering Young Women with Survival Skills

In the afternoons and evening, women and girls have the chance to learn to read, write, and calculate in a literacy course run by JRS Chad in Fourkoulom. Credit: JRS

Dozens of girls and young women in Chad's Fourkoulom IDP camp are benefiting from a literacy program spearheaded by the Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS), an international refugee entity of the Society of Jesus (Jesuits).

Situated at Fourkoulom school in Lake Chad Province, the initiative that JRS Chad is facilitating is part of the Entreculturas’ Luz de las Niñas (LdN) campaign.

In a Tuesday, September 6 report, JRS officials say that though the initiative targets young women aged between 12 to 25 years, some other people above the age bracket including men have expressed interest in the program.

“When children go home after the regular courses, the Director and deputy Director of the school continue to teach up to 100 girls and young women, ages 12 to 25 years old,” JRS officials say.

They add in reference to the young women, “Most of them have either previously dropped out of school, or never even had the opportunity to attend school.”


The officials of the Jesuit entity say that over 20 additional community members who are aware of the importance of education such as young boys, elderly women, or middle-aged men, have also requested to join the program.

In the September 6 report, the Director of Fourkouloum school who is also one of the teachers of JRS literacy courses says that the program has attracted many young women who have expressed interest in improving their literacy skills.

“There is a big demand for alphabetization courses,'' the Director of the Jesuits entity say, and add, “We would like to have an extra teacher to allow more students to come.”

On his part, the deputy Director of the school says that “most of the women attending the literacy courses are married or divorced. They are very motivated. They stopped going to school because their families married them.”

The deputy Director who is teaches JRS literacy courses highlights the importance of the program, saying that just like boys, girls also have a right to advance in their studies. 

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The girls, he says, “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.”

In the report, Hadidja, aged 18 who is a beneficiary of JRS literacy courses narrates her experience and how she ended up in the refugees’ camp.

“Two years ago, my family and I left my village because Boko Haram attacked my village. In the Fourkouloum camp, two friends told me about JRS’ literacy courses. I decided to learn to read and write,” Ms. Hadidja is quoted as saying.

She adds, “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,” she continues.


On her part, the 20-year-old Hadja who aspires to become a teacher is quoted as saying, “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.”

She goes on to say, “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,” Ms. Hadja is quoted as saying in the September 6 JRS report.

Silas Mwale Isenjia is a Kenyan journalist with a great zeal and interest for Catholic Church related communication. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Linguistics, Media and Communication from Moi University in Kenya. Silas has vast experience in the Media production industry. He currently works as a Journalist for ACI Africa.