20,000 Children from Conflict Areas in North East to Benefit from EU-UNICEF Education Intervention
By Bashir Hassan Abubakar
20,000 children from insurgency ravaged areas in the North Eastern region of Nigeria will benefit from an intervention that will focus on basic education through construction of classroom and toilet facilities.
The intervention, which is funded by the European Union (EU) in Borno State, North-East Nigeria, is being Implemented by UNICEF through state and local partners.
A press statement jointly signed by Folashade Adebayo of UNICEF Borno office and Modestus Chukwulaka of EU, said so far 116 newly constructed/renovated classrooms and 53 latrines have now been handed to the Borno State Universal Basic Education Board, maintaining that the facilities will support girls’ education, reduce classroom congestion, and improve access and retention of conflict-affected children in school.
The statement also revealed that Children in Borno State are among the most conflict-affected and educationally disadvantaged in the world, pointing out that since 2009, over 1,400 schools have been destroyed and 2,295 teachers killed across the North-East in protracted conflict.
It also said that the attacks by armed groups on education and school facilities, the influx of internally displaced families into metropolitan cities and population growth have also overstretched existing school structures to the limit, creating challenges of access, retention, and school completion.
The Head of Health, Nutrition, Resilience and Human Development at the European Union Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Ms Montse Pantaleoni, hailed the initiative and said the EU and its member states are committed to supporting the government of Nigeria in the area of education, including the strengthening of Education Management Information System for longer term benefits in the sector.
“Education is a fundamental human right and investing in people is the most important investment any government could make for its citizens. Getting a number of out-of-school children back to school, and especially keeping the girls longer in school will contribute to better parenthood and reduce the effects of poverty that fuels protracted insurgency,’’ said Montse Pantaleoni.
Spread across Gwoza, Hawul, Mobbar, Monguno, Jere and Maiduguri Metropolitan Council local government areas, the newly constructed/renovated classrooms and latrines will provide immediate relief to children in some of the most hard-to-reach areas in the state.
“Children in North-East Nigeria face unique challenges. The COVID-19 pandemic has complicated existing challenges in access to and quality of education, even further. While many barriers remain, we can be pleased to see progress is being made,” said Rushnan Murtaza, Deputy Representative UNICEF in Nigeria.
“For conflict-affected children and their families, education is a lifeline out of generational poverty. We are grateful for the funding from the EU to ensure the rights of the children in North-East Nigeria to access quality education,’’ said Rushnan Murtaza.
Our correspondent reports that the projects are components of a three-year €10 million European Union Support to Early Recovery and Resilience package to UNICEF to support children, youths, and communities in Borno State.
Other components in the package include the provision of vocational skill acquisition and non-formal education to at least 25,000 young people.