Over 1 million out of school children in N/E benefited from UN education support- UNICEF Official
By Our reporter
Sept. 8, 2020 - Over 1 million out of school children in insurgency ravaged Northeast have been supported to access quality education in a safe environment by the United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF) in the past one year.
Dr Judith Giwa-Amu, UNICEF’s Education Officer responsible for Education in Emergencies (EIE) Coordination at National level made this known while speaking to the Humanitarian Post on Tuesday in Abuja.
Giwa-Amu said UNICEF and partners have developed several programs to ensure quality and safe environment of children in conflict taking cognizance that education is protection, lifesaving and would prevent children from being recruited into arm groups.
She said that UNICEF had initially targeted 1.5 million children to benefit from the programme but was able to effectively reach 1 million children.
She disclosed that in conflict affected Benue State, North-central, 11,000 children out of the earlier targeted 12,000 children have also been supported to access quality education in safe space
“We are very aware of the fact that education is protection, it is actually lifesaving, because when children are engaged in education, they are not on the road to be recruited, to be abducted, to be kidnapped.
“We recognize that when you talk of humanitarian response, there is the need to capture the most severe area.
“Sometimes it looks like it is only the Northeast but the cases in the Northeast are very severe, the numbers are very high.
“You have over 1.5 million children that are out of school and that is before COVID-19 and there are so many programmes aside UNICEF so we have brought in so many programmes not only in the Northeast and in the North-central.
“In the North-central which is specifically Benue, where we have issues of communal clashes between herders and farmers as a result of climate change related competition for natural resources.
“UNICEF as one of the key responders, out of a target of 12,000, we were able to reach about 11,000.
“That is to say about 99 per cent were reached in that particular intervention and looking at restoration of educational
opportunities to children that have been affected by conflicts in the North-central zones.
“But in the North-east, with a target of over 1.5, we have reached over 1 million children with support to access to quality education.
“In the safe environment and also sustainability towards continuation beyond the end of the programme,” Giwa-Amu said.
Giwa-Amu said that access to quality education and safe environment was one of the key areas identified by the Federal Ministry of Education and stakeholders for intervention and implementation.
She explained that access includes every kind of activity that can inform the child’s return and staying back in school.
“In the Education in Emergency Working Group, under the education sector, we have international NGOs, Civil Society Organisations and government Organisations. The Ministry of Defence is part of us.
“We have humanitarian response programs that we come together and implement and for us to implement these programs, we have what we call a needs assessment.
“It identifies what the key issues are, what are the numbers, what will be the best strategies to address these issues.
“So one of the key issues in the education sector even from the Federal Ministry of Education, they look at access to education, they look at quality and then they look at systems strengthening.
“So access is talking about every kind of activity that can inform the child coming back to school and staying in school,” she added.
According to Giwa-Amu, access to quality education and safe education space ensures provision of temporary learning spaces when you do not have any schools when the schools have been attacked.
She said that access to quality education includes employing teachers with the requisite competency to be able to able to not just address the regular pedagogy but literacy, numeracy, life skills and psycho-social needs of traumatized children.