Government/Catholic Partnership saves Chad's School System

Panafrican News Agency (Dakar), 21 March 2001

Dakar—The Bishop of Sarah, Chad, has revealed the existence of a unique and mutually beneficial partnership between the church and the government to save the country's poor educational system.

He told PANA Wednesday that thanks to the new experience, the Catholic Church can survive and is prospering, even though the environment is essentially Islamic.

The experience, he said, consists in a partnership between the Church, the parents and the government.

Through the understanding, the state provides teachers and the church provides the structures and runs the schools while parents chip in the bit they can to supplement for the teaching staff.

Hence our school system is neither wholly Catholic nor public, he said.

The state can then be sure of having at least, the basis of what it need to run the administration in terms of personnel, he explained.

He said the experience has so far produced probably the best results in the educational system of the country.

Mgr Edmond Djitangar is attending a meeting of the Standing Committee of the Symposium of Episcopal Conferences of Africa and Madagascar which opened in Dakar Tuesday.

since the entire administration is held by the Moslems, we train most of the youth who later on serve the state, he explained.

He said the strategy of the catholic church is to remain open to other religious groups of the country by preaching to Christians and by teaching right from the primary schools the virtues of tolerance.

In our preaching, we tell our faithful of the necessity to live in harmony with their brothers and sisters of Islamic faith, he said.

But Mgr Djitangar added that the country was still in dire need of senior level, or in some sectors, qualified technicians to man the main areas of the economy.

This will make it impossible for most Chadians to benefit from the present oil boom in the country.

He equally deplored the total absence of a precise oil policy in the country, saying that for most people in Chad, oil money is already in good hands, far away from Chad

It will certainly benefit only the leadership, family members and their cronies, he predicts.

Mgr Djitangar is very sceptical of the political and even the economic future of Chad, in spite of oil wealth.

The entire nation is going through a serious crisis and stagnation: economic, social and political.

Chadians have remained perpetual casualties of the different and successive leadership of Chad, essentially because of the way leaders have acceded to power since independence, he explained.

He deplored the absence of a democratic culture in Chad and agreed with Chadian President Idriss Derby who ridiculously described the system as fixed up democracy or democracy packaged in the west.

The result of all this is total demobilisation of the population.

Take for example the coming presidential election, he said, because pass experience shows that results of such exercises are known before hand, very few people bothered to register, at all.

He said the present regime takes advantage of that disengagement of the population to organise it the way it wants.

Up to now there is no challenger in the opposition. And even if there were any, would he have th means to face a government which has the entire state apparatus at it disposal?, he asked.

He said the Church had been trying to persuade people to put their names in election registers but they are toatally discouraged and behave as if there will be no election at all....

The situation is so terse that most people appear to be expecting some dramatic change. Which? No one can say.

He said the entire political class in Chad had come to realise the limits of military regimes.

Fortunately the civil society is becoming more and more organised and more forthcoming with political debate in issues of human rights free speech.

The Church, he said, is also playing its own part through diocesan committees on Justice and Peace, to make people realise and accept the fact that it is possible to get to power by means other than arms and govern effectively.

We pray for the message to bear fruits, he concluded.