Chad’s Mobile School for Nomadic Children

Chad is one of the poorest countries in the world, where one in every five children dies before their fifth birthday. A teacher was inspired to set up a mobile school when he saw children playing at a nomad camp. The school follows the nomad community when they move on every two months or so.

Teacher Leonard Gamaigue was inspired to set up a mobile school when he saw children playing at a nomad camp in Toukra, outside the Chadian capital N’Djamena, during normal school hours in 2019. The school follows the nomad community when they move on every two months or so, and now has 69 pupils of various ages and basic supplies thanks to donations.

Children from a nomadic community in Chad were given a rare opportunity to receive an education as they sat crowded together on mats in a makeshift open-air classroom to watch their teacher write simple sums on a blackboard.

The nation of central Africa has a population of about 16 million people, of which about 7% are nomads. Every year, when the semi-arid central regions receive seasonal rains that turn them green with new pasture, these nomads move their herds hundreds of kilometres from the south.

Despite being centuries old, this way of life is incompatible with Chad’s formal educational system. Less than 1% of nomad boys and “virtually zero” nomad girls, according to the International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs in Copenhagen, were enrolled in school as of 2018.

When he observed kids playing at a nomad camp in Toukra, outside of the Chadian capital N’Djamena, during regular school hours in 2019, teacher Leonard Gamaigue was motivated to establish a mobile school. When we started, we had practically nothing, not even a piece of chalk,” the 28-year-old recalled, after a lesson in late August.

After almost three years, thanks to donations, his school, which relocates with the community every two months or so, now has 69 students of various ages and the essentials.
“They had never been to school before, none of them … today they can already write their name correctly, express themselves in French, do sums,” Gamaigue said with pride.

The teacher has also received training in nomadic lifestyles, including how to better conserve water, eat a diet high in milk, and become accustomed to packing up and moving the school.

The kids picked up the blackboard after their lesson was over and carefully set it under a tree to keep it out of the rain that had earlier flooded some of their camp.

Chad, one of the world’s poorest nations where, according to the World Bank, one in every five children dies before turning five, faces a variety of difficulties, including severe seasonal floods.

Ousmane Brahim, a camp leader and school parent, said, “We rejoice in the establishment of this modest school for… our children, who are making progress despite our challenging living conditions.” adding ,”We nomads didn’t understand the value of education, but today we’re starting to see its value for ourselves and for our nation.”

The nation of central Africa has a population of about 16 million people, of which about 7% are nomads. Every year, when the semi-arid central regions receive seasonal rains that turn them green with new pasture, these nomads move their herds hundreds of kilometres from the south.

Despite being centuries old, this way of life is incompatible with Chad’s formal educational system. The International Work Group for Indigenous Affairs, based in Copenhagen, estimates that “virtually zero” nomad boys and less than 1% of all nomad men are male.