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Back in her home village of Aagapaluwa in Gwoza Local Government Area of Borno state, Miss Juliana Matthew considered school attendance a luxury far beyond her reach. The youngest of her father's nine children, Juliana is among the thousands internally displaced persons (IDPS) who fled the troubled Gwoza to the state capital on account of the Boko Haram insurgency.
"While I was in Gwoza, I had never attended school because my parents could not afford to pay my school fees," she says.
But now in Maiduguri, Juliana has been enrolled at the Kansem Primary School, thanks to efforts by the state government and partner organisations like the European Union to expand opportunities for those affected by the insurgency in the state. In her words, going to school "would not have been possible if I were still at Gwoza. Now I feel safe again."
The Borno state government is providing free education for pupils in the state. Children like Juliana, whose parents cannot afford school fees, now have access to education. The role played by international partners like the European Union in the ongoing efforts to turn things around for the victims of the Boko Haram crisis in Nigeria's North-East region is not lost on Juliana.
She was one of the excited pupils who witnessed the launch of two new European Union-funded education initiatives launched by the Borno state authorities in Maidugiri on 28 June 2019. Over 150,000 children and 2,500 teachers will directly benefit from the projects aimed at providing immediate education services and strengthening the education system in Borno state. The EU has earmarked €20 million through its 11th European Development Fund for the projects.
The projects expand and deepen the already extensive EU humanitarian and development assistance to the many victims of violence and displacement in Nigeria's North East, while also addressing some of the underlying drivers of violent extremism in Nigeria. This latest EU intervention, to be implemented over a three-year period by proven international partners, has been designed to build on the EU's Education in Emergencies Support to North-East Nigeria, but goes beyond provision of immediate services to strengthening service quality and delivery, to help increase learning outcomes for girls and boys in the longer term.
"With the learning materials delivered to our schools, now our parents need not worry about buying books and stationery…. Now I have the basic needs for my primary education," says Julian
Needless to say, the young girl is elated to be in school: "I wish all girls had access to quality education," she enthuses. Left for her, the state government should enact a law that compels all children of school, especially girls, to go to school. "This is because when you educate a girl you educate a nation."
She is full of appreciation for the European Union and UNICEF for their support, and would want them to renovate more classrooms in our schools and provide more facilities in schools, including separate toilets for boys and girls. "This will ensure that girls have privacy and do not have to skip school," she says.
"Education is crucial for both the protection and healthy development of girls and boys affected by crises. For girls, education reduces maternal and child mortality and educated mother is more likely to have educated children,” the Head of Cooperation at the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, Mr. Kurt Cornelis, says.
Through one of the projects implemented by Plan International, together with Save the Children and Gender Equality Peace and Development Centre (GEPaDC), 80,000 primary and secondary pupils will benefit from improved access to quality education; 18,000 children and youth who have dropped out of education will benefit from Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP); 12,000 young people will benefit from life skills training, and 4,300 will be receiving employability and business training.
The project will target primary schools, secondary schools, and Tsangaya schools, where classrooms will be rehabilitated and furnished. Water points will be installed or repaired, and toilets cubicles constructed. Children will receive vouchers for learning kits, girls and young women will receive dignity kits to manage menstruation, and young people will receive vouchers for business start-up kits.
Teaching kits, textbooks will also be provided, and over 900 primary and secondary teachers will be trained, the majority of whom will be employed by the government. Thirty-six schools will establish kitchen gardens, and psycho-social resources will be brought into schools with referral for children with trauma. School Based Management Committees (SBMCs) will be refreshed, retrained and work with communities to engage in education advocacy.
UNICEF, together with the Norwegian Refugee Council and StreetChild are implementing the other project to strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable communities, especially children, and support inclusive, quality and equitable basic education in Borno state. The action will:
The action will achieve three result areas as follows: