By; MATTHEW UKACHUNWA, Lagos
United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said that it has handed over 116 newly constructed and renovated classrooms and 53 latrines to Borno State Universal Basic Education Board in order to improve access to education for children in the area.
The project was funded by European Union (EU) and implemented by UNICEF through state and local partners.
The facilities will support girls’ education, reduce classroom congestion, and improve access and retention of conflict-affected children in school, UNICEF Nigeria highlighted in a news release dated 4th June 2021 which it jointly issued with EU.
According to it, at least 20,000 children will benefit from the facilities.
It pointed out that children in Borno State are among the most conflict-affected and educationally disadvantaged in the world.
“Since 2009, over 1,400 schools have been destroyed and 2,295 teachers killed across the North-East in protracted conflict,” UNICEF stated, and elaborated this claim by stressing that attacks by armed groups on education and school facilities, the influx of internally displaced families into metropolitan cities and population growth have also stretched existing school structures to the limit, creating challenges of access, retention, and school completion.
The UN agency said that theHead 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,’’ Montse Pantaleoni said.
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, UNICEF clarified.
“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,’’ Rushnan Murtaza said.
UNICEF disclosed 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.