Extent of knowledge and use of the French language, particularly in N'Djamena; language of education; whether it is possible to receive twelve years of education in N'Djamena and not receive French instruction; language of commerce [TCD30500.E]

Specific information concerning the extent of the use and knowledge of the French language in Chad and particularly in N'Djamena could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate. According to the World Factbook '97, French and Arabic are the official languages of Chad (1997). However, there are over 100 languages spoken in Chad (Chad: A Country Study, 1990, 45).

According to Chad: A Country Study, the dominant language of education was French from the beginning of colonial period (ibid., 77). Later, however, "model" schools began teaching French as a foreign language (ibid., 81) and since at least 1918 Koranic schools offering Arabic instruction have existed in Chad (ibid., 77). Chad: A Country Study states that:

Arabic is not the maternal language of the majority of Chadian Muslims. As a result, although many Chadian Muslims have attended Quranic schools, they have often learned to recite Quranic verses without understanding their meaning. (ibid., 71).

Specific information as to whether it would be possible for a person to receive twelve years of education without receiving French instruction could not be found among the sources consulted by the Research Directorate.

In a telephone interview with the Research Directorate, a professor of political science at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, who specializes in Chad and is the co-author of Chad: A Nation in Search of its Future, stated that Arabic is the dominant language of commerce (9 Nov. 1998). This is corroborated in Chad: A Country Study, which states in its discussion of Arabic languages that:

Despite the diversity of dialects and the scattered distribution of Arabic-speaking populations, the language has had a major impact on Chad. In the Sahel, Arab herdsmen and their wives frequent local markets to exchange their animals, butter, and milk for agricultural products, cloth, and crafts. Itinerant Arab traders and settled merchants in the towns play major roles in local and regional economies. As a result, Chadian Arabic (or Turku) has became [sic] a lingua franca, or trade language. (1990, 57)

The United States Department of Commerce Country Commercial Guide for Chad states:

French and Arabic are the official business languages of Chad. English is increasingly being used. Sara is common in the south, though more than 100 languages are spoken in different parts of the country. (1998)

This Response was prepared after researching publicly accessible information currently available to the Research Directorate within time constraints. This Response is not, and does not purport to be, conclusive as to the merit of any particular claim to refugee status or asylum. Please find below the list of additional sources consulted in researching this Response.


Chad: A Country Study. 1990. Edited by Thomas Collelo. Washington, DC: Secretary of the Army.

United States Department of Commerce. 23 February 1998. "Chad: Commercial Overview". [Internet] http://strategis.ic.gc.ca> [Accessed 23 Nov. 1998]

World Factbook '97. 1997. Central Intelligence Agency. [Internet] http://www.odci.gov/cia> [Accessed 23 Nov. 1998]

Professor of Political Science specializing in Chad, University of North Carolina, Charlotte. 9 November 1998. Telephone interview.

Additional Sources Consulted

Africa South of the Sahara 1998. 1998. 27th Ed. London: Europa Publications.

Newton, Alex. 1994. Central Africa: A Lonely Planet Travel Survival Kit. 2nd ed. Oakland, CA: Lonely Planet Publications.

Political Handbook of the World 1997. 1997.

Unsuccessful attempts to contact four oral sources.