The Tokten/MIDA programme: Mobilizing the Chadian diaspora for capacity building

09 Aug 2013

image Mbaïdéyo Djasserabe, a member of Chad's diaspora, returned to the country to participate in a programme passing on his knowledge and expertise in health and higher education.(Photo: UNDP Chad)

It’s a hot afternoon in the classrooms of the N’Djamena Faculty of Exact Sciences where Mbaïdéyo Djasserabe teaches math to a class of 16 students in a Master’s Degree 1 program.  Although these students currently appear to be enthusiastic, Mr. Djasserabe instead paints an unsettling picture of the status of higher education in Chad.

“Since 2000, the number of students has dropped and the teaching conditions have become worse due to the lack of educators and teaching materials.  Neither the faculty nor the students currently have the means to fulfill their ambitions,” he says.

Among its diaspora, Chad has very capable human resources, and the expertise of these expatriate nationals offers an opportunity for mobilization. A statistical engineer in Paris, Mr. Djasserabe has agreed to come to Chad to participate in a program to develop and strengthen human resources in the healthcare services and higher education sectors of Chad.  The project, which was implemented on February 1 and is run by the UNDP and the International Organization for Migration (IOM), plans to deploy 15 members of the Chadian Diaspora living in France in order to accomplish this goal.

The students, who are delighted to have the expert be involved, shared their impressions as well as their fears.

“We have been able to dialogue with the professor very easily; we have been able to correct our mistakes and to understand things much easier than through our manuals. We are in need of teachers, and it is rare that we are able to complete the program on time,” they said.

In addition to the lack of resources, the students discussed the lack of prospects.

“We do not have a clear idea of what we are going to be able to do with this degree,” one said.

Out of the 11.2 million inhabitants in Chad, 50.3 percent are under the age of 15, and the formal sector serves only 5 percent of the active population. The unemployment rate is approximately 34 percent in urban areas, and considering the young age of the population, underemployment and unemployment foremost affects young people and more specifically young graduates. (AFDB 2012)

"The support of the UNDP and the IOM may create a dynamic that is going to help these students to support their initial project in the Master’s Degree 2 program with more practical modules. We hope that this will provide their degree with more value and foremost that they have skills that enable them to directly begin working at a company. For example, if we implement an information technology module, they will be able to acquire real skills here without having to go abroad to pursue a very expensive education.”

Since the beginning of 2013, four healthcare professionals (including an anesthesiologist, a gastroenterologist and an orthopedic surgeon) have taken part, and five educational support missions have been organized. A digestive cancer specialist and a biomedical engineer will arrive during the third quarter to offer support to the N’Djamena general hospital. In addition, a research engineer responsible for industrial maintenance will come to share his expert knowledge at the University in the capital city.

The Tokten/Mida project hopes to contribute to an improvement in the performance and the quality of the services for those institutions targeted within the healthcare and higher education sectors. The initial project lasts 11 months and has a budget of US $450,000, but the goal is to build a multiannual program supporting several countries.