Mother-tongue Literacy in the Guera Region, Chad

  • Date published:
    9 April 2015
Mother-tongue Literacy in the Guera Region
© Federation of Associations for the Promotion of the Guera Languages (Fédération des Associations de Promotion des Langues de Guéra - FAPLG)

Programme Overview

Programme Title Mother-tongue Literacy in the Guera Region (Alphabétisation en langue maternelle dans la Région du Guéra)
Implementing Organization Federation of Associations for the Promotion of the Guera Languages (Fédération des Associations de Promotion des Langues de Guéra - FAPLG)
Language of Instruction Official and 15 local languages
Funding International NGOs and foreign donors including the Chadian State, World Food Programme (WFP), SIL International, Wycliffe USA, Wycliffe Sweden, Wycliffe Germany, Wycliffe Great Britain. Also self-funding with contributions from the communities.
Programme Partners Ministry of Basic Education and Literacy, Linguistic Society, the Chad Government, PAM, SIL International, Wycliffe USA, Wycliffe Sweden, Wycliffe Germany, Wycliffe Great Britain
Annual Programme Costs CFA 102 474 780 (US$211,436);
Annual programme cost per learner: CFA 13 970 (US$29)
Date of Inception 2001

Country Context

Chad is a developing country ranking 184 out of 187 in the Human Development Index for 2013 (UNDP, 2013). The total adult literacy rate stands at 40.4% (UIS, 2015).
In order to deal with the need for adult literacy education, Chad has set up three technical departments: the Direction de l'Alphabétisation (DIAL – Literacy Directorate), Direction de la Promotion des Langues Nationales (DPLN – Directorate for the Promotion of National Languages) and the Direction de l'Éducation Non-Formelle (DENF – Directorate for Non-Formal Education). Each of these are represented at local levels by literacy inspectors and supervisors.

The Guera region is a transitional region between the North and South of Chad, situated in the central Sahel zone. The region has an area of 53,000 km2 and a population of 553,795 (UN STATS, 2009). It has a large potential for agriculture and livestock farming, which could cover both its own food needs and those of the neighbouring regions. In 2009, the region's illiteracy rates stood at 89% (UNESCO, 2012) with poverty also at high levels.

Programme Overview

The Federation of Associations for the Promotion of the Guera Languages (FAPLG) is a civil society organization formed in 2001 with the aim of developing the 26 languages of the Guera region, promoting language teaching and education, and creating income-generating activities to halve the very high level of illiteracy and its corollaries in the region by 2025. They hope to contribute to solving the problem of illiteracy which, in their view, is closely linked to the causes of under-development, as well as promoting and making possible the continuing education of farmers, especially women, key factors in improving Chad's economic situation.


The FAPLG was formed at the initiative of native speakers in the region, on observation of linguistic communities in the region where the illiteracy rate was over 90% and poverty and disease were strangling their socio-economic development. The institution was officially formed in Bitkine at a General Assembly organized by members of the executive boards of the three founding associations: APLK Association pour la Promotion de la Langue Kenga (Association for the Promotion of the Kenga Language), APLD Association pour la Promotion de la Langue Dangaleat (Association for the Promotion of the Dangaleat Language) and ADPLG Association pour le Développement et la Promotion de la Langue Guerguiko (Association for the Development and Promotion of the Guergiko Language). In 2004, soon after the FAPLG was created and had obtained authorization to operate, it was joined by other associations. It now has 18 member associations, of whom 15 already run the literacy programme and 3 are preparing to put it in place. Today the circle now extends to the 26 languages of the region. Of these languages, 15 have already been taken on by the FAPLG and are being used for literacy courses for their native speakers, with a further three at the final stages of preparation for starting literacy courses. These 15 langauges include: Dangaleat, Guerguiko, Kenga, Migaam, Sokoro, Dadjo, APLB, Bidiya, Mawa, Saba Sorki, Mogoum, Oubi, Zerenkel, Baraĩne, More and Eeni.

Multi-lingual instruction including teaching in the mother-tongue is something relatively new in Chadian education system, as although the current debate in Chad is focused on bilingualism (French-Arabic), it does not include trilingualism or pluriligualism, which would take into account the local languages. The Guera is an exception because, despite this debate, mother tongues have their place in literacy and pre-school centres.

In addition to the adult literacy programme, the FAPLG is also developing a pre-school programme which consists of providing basic education to children aged 5 to 6 years in the mother tongue with time for oral French to prepare them for successful admission into school.

Aims and Objectives

  • Develop and standardize the languages of the Guera to allow literacy of their native speakers
  • Build the capacity of member associations in planning and managing local language literacy programmes, through the training of members in certain language associations
  • Develop teaching materials and written manuals on subjects relating to community development and the daily life of people in the Guera, agriculture and livestock farming
  • Create a literate environment through the publication of a range of literature in the languages of the Guera
  • Serve as a focal point between farmers organizations and other institutions to help them in implementing their programme in the context of literacy
  • Harmonize, coordinate, supervise, monitor and evaluate the activities of the language associations
  • Strengthen solidarity between member associations

Programme Implementation

Since its inception in 2001, 18 communities have been organized into associations. 15 associations have a literacy programme which includes the adult programme, the pre-school programme and the functional literacy programme. Twenty seven supervisors and coordinators have been trained with two staff members at an advanced Masters level. There are 31 functional literacy centres and 5 premises built for member associations. One building has been built for FAPLG headquarters and hundreds of titles have been published for native language speakers.

On the FAPLG executive board is a technical body consisting of a director, four other coordinators and a finance manager. This technical board oversees linguistic research, the elaboration of teaching materials, monitoring and evaluation, raising awareness and funds mobilization and seeking partnerships with other institutions.


Teaching-Learning Approaches and Methodologies

The programme offers a series of four six-month mother tongue literacy courses. This time is divided into two stages. In the first two years, the learners concentrate on mastering reading and writing in their mother-tongue. Following this stage, the youngest learners are steered towards the transition classes from mother-tongue to French in two courses and sit an exam to obtain a primary school certificate in state schools. After this stage, learners wishing to continue their studies do so in a state school. Meanwhile, adults are steered towards functional literacy centres where classes are given using books produced in their mother tongue. Themes covered include market gardening, agriculture, livestock farming, poultry and small livestock farming, health, proverbs, history of the people, management, income-generating activities and commerce. As part of the curriculum, participants carry out practical activities under the supervision of experts in the subject. These income-generating activities provide them with the financial means to pay for mats and chalk for the centre along with an incentive for the instructor. After being monitored for two years by the FAPLG, these centres are organized into community interest groups and evolve in the context of socio-economic development helping to improve their lives.

The FAPLG is aiming to halve the illiteracy rate by 2025. The strategy is to teach literacy in the mother tongue as this option is considered to be the most rapid and effective. In consequence, books concerning scientific methods on agriculture and livestock farming, produced under the direction of experts, provide farmers with practical knowledge enabling them to increase their annual productivity, and also grow various products during the dry season. Among other subjects covered by the production of manuals is the cultural question, which reunites learners with their identity heritage through stories, proverbs, oral histories, myths, and legends, or simply subjects relating to the life of the population. The activities started are systematically directed towards socio-economic development. The learners’ income-generating activities in the market gardens earn them money and allow them to vary the quality of their diet with fresh vegetables, not otherwise available during the dry season. Through these activities, people are teaching themselves as well as learning from ideas gained in the centres and from books translated into their language.


Programme content (curriculum)

In 2012, the National Literacy Plan for Chad was prepared as a guide and reference document for all those involved in literacy. This manual is based on the reality of the country and especially of each community. Key actors, including the FAPLG, participated in decisions on its content. In addition to the reference document, subject content is developed by the local association according to the community’s needs. The technical aspects are the responsibility of technical advisers, the technical staff of the FAPLG with the approval of the literacy department in the Ministry of National Education (DAPLAN – Department of Literacy and Promotion of National Languages).

The Governing Council of the FAPLG is composed of representatives of member associations. During a planning meeting all needs for the next campaign are determined and discussed by the Governing Council. These needs are summarized in reports of programme managers which the associations pass on to FAPLG staff. Feedback from staff monitoring visits helps to determine the needs of learners and reports of statutory meetings in each community are also sent to the technical staff. The associations send in the reports at the beginning of each month during campaign periods. The FAPLG, in turn, sends a report to the sponsor every quarter and another report to Chad's administrative authorities at the beginning and at the end of each campaign.

The producers of materials vary according to the nature of the publication. Basic syllabuses are prepared by technical advisers with the help of programme workers or informants on a given language. Materials for newly literate and more advanced readers are prepared during workshops organized for the purpose. Alternatively, experts in different fields are invited to speak on the subject concerned. The material is adapted to the methodology by technical advisers and native speakers with technical support from FAPLG staff.


Recruitment and Training of Facilitators

Each language association affiliated to the FAPLG has a programme manager, supervisors, instructors and an elected executive board which supervises activities at a local level. Its staff are chosen by the community and are responsible to that community.

Facilitators are volunteers and oversee up to 30 learners. They are given an incentive of around 33,000 CFA per campaign (US$68) of which 20% is paid by the community and the rest coming from funds mobilized externally.

Candidates for the post of facilitator must have at least the intermediate secondary certificate BEPC (equivalent to a secondary school certificate gained at the age of 15 or 16) and be a native speaker of the community language. After their recruitment, facilitators are given an initial training of three weeks which covers the following main subjects: spelling in the community language, teaching methods for the syllabus, teaching practice, general concepts related to literacy, adult teaching methods and management of the literacy centre. At the end of the training, there is a final test which identifies the best candidates. After the final test, the candidate is passed for appointment as a facilitator by the FAPLG. After this training, refresher courses are held in mid-campaign. Facilitators are also re-trained each year at the beginning of the campaign on subjects considered necessary by the programme managers in the course of their monitoring visits.

At different levels, the programme provides for further training of trainers: the FAPLG technical staff, as master trainers, receive training in the framework of capacity building by SIL International experts and other external training bodies (Africa Training Programme, seminars and symposiums). The FAPLG technical staff build the capacities of member associations by training their coordinators and supervisors who in turn train their facilitators.

The training of facilitators and members of certain associations is carried out on a local level by the association itself. As an example, associations currently in a position to train their facilitators include APLK, APLD, ADPLG and ASDEPROLAM.

Enrollment of Learners

The main target groups of the programme are adults, out-of-school youth, women and girls.

After an awareness-raising visit by the executive board of each association to each of the villages in its community, applicants are registered by facilitators recruited by the association for the purpose. Each facilitator then consults the learners with a view to drawing up a timetable, fixing class days and the place of classes. Bearing in mind the burden borne by women in Chad, especially in the Guera, classes are held in the afternoon from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. to allow them to attend courses. In all, the courses consist of three hours per day and four classes a week. The literacy campaign lasts six months, from January to June, just after the harvest and before the advent of the next rainy season. This period was chosen in consultation with the learners. Each adult centre has at least 30 learners at each level and a trained instructor. Each learner buys, at a subsidized price of 200 CFA (US$0.40), teaching and general culture books. Classes are held in a barn or in a school at the end of the school day in public schools.


Assessment of learning outcomes

During classes the facilitator is monitored by a supervisor, who in turn is monitored by a coordinator. Two (evaluation) tests are held during the campaign. The last assessment is done by the supervisor rather than the facilitator so as to determine the learner’s precise ability to move up to the next level. At the end of two years of learning, learners can read and write well in their language.

Learners who complete each level of the programme, including the transition period supplemented by classes in French, depending on their jurisdiction, may also have the option to sit for exams to pass the primary school certificate from the National Education System.

To better measure the impact of the programme, a monitoring and evaluation questionnaire is submitted to the beneficiaries through the programme supervisors at the end of each literacy campaign.

Monitoring and Evaluation

Day-to-day monitoring of associations’ literacy activities is carried out by supervisors, coordinators and technical advisers of each association and the technical staff of FAPLG. The latter organizes unannounced monitoring and evaluation visits two or three times in each campaign and for each association. For this purpose, it collects statistical data for evaluation reports to be sent to the various partners, such as DAPLAN, SIL, WFP, the Guera National Education Department (DDEN-G) and foreign donors. The FAPLG also carries out internal audits each year to control the use of funds allocated for each member association and to strengthen financial management capacities.

Monitoring is also carried out by the NGO Directorate (DONG), DAPLAN and the University of N’djamena at specific intervals. Every four years, the DONG sends a monitoring mission to evaluate the activities of the FAPLG and the accounts are audited every two years. Annual reports are sent to the Regional Delegation of Education and then to DGAPLAN Direction Générale d'Alphabétisation et de la Promotion des Langues Nationales (General Direction for Literacy and the Promotion of National Languages) working under the Minister for Basic Education and Literacy.


Programme Impact and Challenges

Impact and achievements

Expected impacts are an improvement of communities' living standards, in particular poverty reduction, thanks to the use of knowledge acquired in the literacy centres.

In 2003 (following the formation of the federation) the literacy campaign of 2003 – 2004 reached a total of 1,113 learners. As the number of associations increased, the number of learners also increased. In the 2012 – 2013 campaign, 13 languages were in operation with 6,577 learners enrolled. Of these 5,356 were women enrolled in 143 adult centres with 166 classes including 31 functional literacy centres. There were also 69 pre-school centres for 1,859 children, including 852 girls. This campaign covered three departments of the Guera region, with 100 villages being reached by the programme.

At the last evaluation by the DONG team in April 2011, considerable improvement in the communities' living standards was noted. The beneficiary populations are applying their new knowledge in their daily lives: market gardening activities, livestock farming, and the organization of community interest groups. Women are showing that they benefit greatly from the manuals they read in the literacy centres on children’s lives, managing household income and managing their group.

Today in the Guera region, women who attended literacy classes mostly give birth in a health centre. More of them also attend health centres for pre-natal and post-natal consultations and their children complete their schedule of vaccinations. Women now create groups or associations without having to resort to a male secretary. Based on the arithmetic learned in literacy centres, women manage their household budgets better. Instead of wasting the millet, they measure the daily or monthly ration with precise calculations. This even prevents arguments at home with the husband who often used to scold the wife for bad food management. Through the programme and regular attendance, some learners have managed to make up for the schooling lost because of past wars in the country. Success stories are shared among the communities, with some learners even progressing to become community teachers and pass on everything they have learnt. It is estimated that more than 210 former literacy learners have moved on to become either teachers in the literacy centres and public schools, secretaries of local groups and associations, or certified enabling them to follow their cursus elsewhere in public establishments.

The impact of multi-lingual teaching has been demonstrated through the programme. Knowledge which hitherto had been reserved for French or Arabic speaking readers is now within the reach of farmers, having been translated into their mother tongues. By way of example, in 2011, the Guera region was shaken by a cholera epidemic. There were several deaths. During that period, the FAPLG translated the booklet on how to avoid catching cholera into 13 languages. This brochure was printed in several copies, made available to readers and displayed on posters fixed to trees and walls in public places in the villages. The message was understood by everyone, as it was read and understood directly in their language without the intervention of a third person. These anti-cholera measures were followed and many people did not catch the disease because they respected the prophylactic measures and applied them in their daily lives. There were villages which were not touched by the epidemic, yet all around, people were dying in their dozens.

In 2012, after a successful transition stage supplemented by evening classes in French, the ASDEPROLAM association entered 56 candidates for the primary school certificate, and of 50 candidates who passed, 30 passed with excellence.

In 2013, FAPLG's contribution to literacy training in Chad was recognised with the award of the UNESCO King Sejong Literacy Prize.


Challenges and lessons learned

The objective set by FAPLG on its formation “to develop the 26 languages of the Guera and use them to educate and train their speakers in order to halve illiteracy by 2025” remains a challenge, Although 15 of these languages are now operative in terms of literacy, much remains to be done, because the more one embraces a community, the greater the scope of intervention, the more the need for qualified personnel is felt and the more the financial envelope rises. Among other constraints on the ground is the lack of material, human and financial resources to meet all the population’s needs. This is the greatest challenge faced by the FAPLG. Another constraint, and no less serious, was the withdrawal of one of the Federation’s chief donors in 2012. This has led to great financial constraints for FAPLG. To deal with this difficulty, Faplg has had to take some strong measures, including, reducing the number literacy centres, compressing the central and decentralised personnel, suspending the financing of certain communities, such as, Oubi, Eeni, Baraine, Zerenkel, Saba and Mawa. Other communities have had their activities reduced to the preschool programme and adult literacy programme.

Given the high cost of living in recent times in Chad, facilitators, although they are volunteers, have begun to ask for some form of subsistence, because they think they could earn more in other jobs. The resources for travel for programme managers (especially for monitoring and evaluation) are also sometimes lacking.

Another lesson learnt is in relation to the context of Chad. The reason behind the success of the programme lies in its foundation which is the community. If the programme was solely run by state agents, the risk of funds being diverted would be high and the programme could not be fully implemented.

Learning literacy in a practical setting helps the learner to flourish as alongside literacy classes, they are also able to participate in income-generating activities. This brings benefits to their family, creates unity and contributes to socio-economic development.


Since the creation of the FAPLG, the communities of member associations have contributed 20% of the costs of programmes for each campaign in kind or in cash. The remaining 80% is still provided by the foreign donors mentioned above, but the community is gradually taking up the baton and the donor contribution is falling. At the beginning of the partnership, the donor bore 100% of the cost and now the community bears 20% of the total cost. This is the system of progressive weaning which has been adopted. For levels three to four, the centres already provide functional literacy where they carry out income-generating activities. Based on this income, the centre itself pays for its operation, including the incentive to the facilitator, the purchase of chalks, mats, and other equipment. The FAPLG is also in the process of re-directing its foreign funding to micro credit to provide associations with the means to strengthen their income-generating activities, to cover the costs of programmes.

At a technical level, the on-the-job training of all the actors in the programme continues: literacy facilitators, supervisors, coordinators, FAPLG technical staff and members of the executive boards of the associations. At the facilitator level, the first learners are already taking over the helm, for they have better local knowledge and are competent for the position. They meet the selection criteria and are not demanding in terms of incentives.



Michel Karim
FALPG, BP 4214, Ndjamena, Chad
Telephone / Fax: +235 99 60 68 67 / 66 73 52 96
Email: mikabbo (at) gmail.com

For citation please use

U. Hanemann (Ed.). Last update: 9 April 2015. Mother-tongue Literacy in the Guera Region, Chad. UNESCO Institute for Lifelong Learning. (Accessed on: 26 March 2023, 07:31 CEST)

PDF in Arabic

Related Documents