1.6m Children Out Of School In Borno, Adamawa,  Yobe – UNICEF 

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*Says. 72% of those in school can’t read a simple text after primary 6 

By; SADIQ ABUBAKAR, Maiduguri 

The. United Nations  Children’s  Fund (UNICEF)  Chief of Field Office, North East, Nigeria,  Phuong T. Nguyen has  said  that, “we look at the vast and unique education needs of children affected by conflict with at least 1.6 million children are out of school in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States.”  

The  Chief  of Field  Office  who stated this  in her welcome address on Wednesday  at Satus Hotel Banquet Hall Maiduguri,  said  UNICEF remains committed to leaving   no child  behind as  they seek to accelerate education delivery in Nigeria.

Nguyen added that,  “among those in school, 72% cannot read a simple text after grade 6. Without acquiring appropriate foundational and transferable skills, children fail to thrive in school and in life.”

According to her, the seminar will convene practitioners and experts , government  officials  and civil society to discuss how best Nigeria can foster FLN with a particular focus on Teaching  at the  Right Level (TaRL), Kanuri, Arithmetic and Reading  Intervention (KARI), Reading  and Numeracy Activity (RANA)  and the Accelerated  Basic  Education  Programme  (ABEP).

She added that the government,  UNICEF,  donor agencies and other development partners are already committed  to increase awareness on fundamental learning  and excited to share innovative methods learned from the implementation of these programmes in Nigeria. 

Nguyen noted that United Nations  Children’s  Fund (UNICEF) in collaboration with the state governments of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe  have convened a knowledge sharing seminar on scaling Fundamental Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) in North East Nigeria.

 The seminar is  aimed of promoting awareness  of FLN models and lessons from the implementation of fundamental learning programmes in north East Nigeria with special  consideration of the ongoing  humanitarian development nexus in the region.

Nguyen maintained that the major objectives of the seminar include presentation of the  current status of Foundational Literacy and Numeracy  in North East  Nigeria and results of the evaluation/assessment of  TaRL, KARI and ABEP.

Others include, sharing of experiences  on what works on Foundational Literacy  and Numeracy  and discussing how to scale up evidence-based and informed interventions on Foundational Literacy and Numeracy within  the  unique humanitarian and development contexts of the North East Nigeria.

Nguyen noted also that these TES commitments are critical for Nigeria and furthermore for the North-East when we look at the vast and unique education needs of children affected by conflict with at least 1.6 million children are out of school in Borno, Adamawa and Yobe States,, pointing  out that,  among those in school, 72% cannot read a simple text after grade 6. Without acquiring appropriate foundational and transferable skills, children fail to thrive in school and in life. 

The Chief of Field Office further said these numbers are disturbing, all hope is not lost. UNICEF has been supporting State Governments to implement effective evidence-based programmes to strengthen Foundational Literacy and Numeracy (FLN) skills such as Teaching at the Right Level (TARL) as well as Kanuri Reading and Arithmetic Intervention (KARI). 

Nguyen noted also that these approaches have been effective to significantly improve student learning outcomes in North-East Nigeria. Through this seminar, we shall learn more about what is working and what is required to expand these approaches to communities and locations where the most disadvantaged children in the North-East live. 

She  said  addressing the learning crises in North-East, and in Nigeria as a whole, requires us to examine the evidence of what works, explore partnerships with the State, NGOs, development partners and communities. This seminar provides us with a platform to share evidence, experiences and to renew our commitment to improving learning outcomes of schoolgirls and boys. 

The Chief Field  Office explained further that the  learning outcomes as demonstrated at the United Nations Secretary-General’s Transforming Education Summit (TES) in September 2023, New York , indicating that  Nigeria was  committed to strengthening learning outcomes and accelerating skills development by implementing cash transfer programmes.

She said dedicating special statutory funds to Universal Basic Education and special programmes, prioritizing the scaling-up of play-based early childhood education, as well as foundational literacy and numeracy programmes where  development partners, including the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), for their continued support to education delivery in northeast Nigeria.

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