Refugee teacher mentorship to improve learning outcomes
The project in brief
Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Chad
Chad (Central Africa)
The project started in September 2018. Phase I of this initiative was completed in August 2019 and was renewed for a three-year period ending August 2022.
In 2015, schools in Sudanese refugee camps in Eastern Chad were required to adopt the Chadian curriculum. One of the largest challenges observed during this transition was refugee teachers’ difficulty in adapting to this newly imposed curriculum. Teachers lacked experience with the Chadian curriculum and requirements, and students’ learning outcomes suffered as a result. In order to overcome this and ensure the quality of education was maintained, a “collaborative team-teaching,” strategy was implemented that paired secondary-level refugee teachers with local Chadian teachers, throughout the school year. The team-teacher (TT) is a Chadian teacher having graduated from the National Teachers’ Institute who works together with the refugee teacher to plan lessons, evaluate students, and manage the class.
TTs are assigned to refugee camps based on needs and live in their assigned camp, alongside refugees.
In 2015, the Chadian government, in partnership with the United States Government and UNHCR, announced that schools in the Darfuri refugee camps in Eastern Chad would be formally integrated into the national education system. The integration of schools created the need for this approach.
JRS received funds from various donors to support this approach.
Main activities of the Good Practice
- Students have more time with teachers and can spend more time working in class
- Students learn from two teachers with different teaching styles and perspectives, which improves their learning outcomes
- Refugee teachers are more capable of teaching the Chadian curriculum and can spend more time with students with learning difficulties
- Opportunities for professional development for refugee teachers
- Improvement of quality of instruction offered to students and therefore of learning outcomes
- Reinforce existing education structures
- Integration of camp education system into the host community system, including the support of local educational authorities
- Increased social cohesion by bringing together refugee and host communities
- United States Government (Department of State, Bureau of Populations, Refugees, and Migration)
- Ministry of Education (MENPC)
- National Curriculum Center (CNC)
Challenges and how they were overcome
- Language barriers: Most Chadian teachers speak French, and it is difficult to recruit TTs who are literate in Arabic. The low level of French language on the part of the refugee teachers also makes collaboration difficult.
- Lack of motivation of Chadian teachers to move to refugee camp zones due to poor conditions and cultural/ethnic barriers.
- Inadequate supply of learning materials adapted to new curriculum.
- Hesitancy of refugee teachers to adopt new curriculum because of hopes for eventual return to Sudan. Teachers, especially at the secondary level, are reticent to not prepare their students for the Sudanese baccalaureate, as they still have hopes to return.
How they were overcome
- A complementary French language acquisition program offered by JRS
- Competitive salary offered to Chadian TTs
- Advocacy to UNICEF to the government for access to adequate materials
- Collaboration with Chadian government to print school manuals
- Advocacy toward the community about the importance of assimilation into the national curriculum.
- Continuous accompaniment by JRS staff
Results of the Good Practice
- Refugee teachers receive more and constant support from their TT mentors.
- Refugee teachers have better adapted to the Chadian curriculum and are improving their ability to teach from this curriculum.
- Refugee students take and pass the Chadian baccalaureate, which makes them more competitive for work.
- Local educational authorities work more actively in the refugee camps, increasing refugee community assimilation and acceptance by the host community.
- In some camps where the host community does not have its own high-school, Chadian students now attend school in the refugee camp.
How the project meets the GCR Objectives
The Team-Teaching good practice meets the following two objectives of the GCR:
- Objective 1: Ease the pressures on host countries
- Objective 2: Enhance refugee self-reliance
It contributes to the focus areas of education, as well as burden- and responsibility-sharing, through its strategy to ease the burden on the Chadian education system by recruiting teachers to help assimilate the refugee community schools into the national curriculum. By building refugees’ capacity to manage their community’s education system, burden and responsibility on the state are ultimately reduced. The TT approach broadens the support base by implicating Chadian teachers and local educational authorities in the support of refugees’ eventual independence and self-reliance.
It responds directly to the needs of this refugee population and yields sustained benefits of an increased quality of education and learning outcomes for students, opportunities for professional development for teachers, and increased social cohesion and contribution to host community. The approach was developed in conjunction with the refugee teachers, who underlined their need for support during the transition to the curriculum. It is implemented with the close support of the Chadian Ministry of Education and Curriculum Center, who facilitate the collection and triage of TT applications. The approach is very adaptable to other contexts, and is easily scaled to reach more beneficiaries.
The official integration process is projected to last 5 years, and even after that continued encouragement and technical support will be necessary. The initiative is funded through August 2022.
Brenna Curti, Head of Programs, Jesuit Refugee Service (JRS) Chad