By Felix Khanoba
The United Nations (UN) says over three million children in the conflict-affected states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe in north-east Nigeria are currently in need of education-in-emergency support.
The UN brought the gloomy picture of education in the north-east to the fore in a statement to commemorate this year’s International Day for Protection of Education.
According to the global body, about 51.7 million dollars is needed to address the education needs of the affected children.
“In north-east Nigeria, education is an emergency, partners are appealing for 55 million dollars to provide emergency education to 3.1 million conflict-affected children this year.
“So far this year, only 3.3 million dollars, a mere 6 percent of the total needed, has been received so far,” a statement made available to newsmen in Abuja on Wednesday by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) said.
The UN called on Nigeria to prioritise school safety and learners’ protection as the over 46 million primary and secondary schools children affected by closure of schools in Nigeria as a result of COVID-19 plan to return to the classroom following the gradual lifting of restrictions to guard against the spread of the virus.
“As state governments plan to reopen schools after prolonged closures, building a resilient education system to withstand future shocks should be included in pandemic response plans,” the statement quoted the UN Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator, Mr Edward Kallon, as said.
He noted that prioritising safety in schools for educators and learners is an indication of the Government’s commitment to protecting investments in the education sector and a validation of Nigeria’s endorsement of the Safe Schools Declaration.
On his part,UN’s Secretary General, António Guterres, said governments must prioritise the safety of children amid the war on COVID-19 pandemic.
“As the world fights to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, children and youth in conflict zones remain among the most vulnerable to its devastating impact. We must ensure our children have a safe and secure environment in which to learn the knowledge and skills they need for the future,” he said.
Also speaking on the International Day for Protection of Education, UNESCO’s Director-General, Audrey Azoulay, said schools must remain safe places, free of conflict and violence.
“Safeguarding the right to education for all contributes to the achievement of sustainable development and nurtures the international community’s decades-long gains towards peace, economic prosperity, and social inclusion worldwide,’’ Azoulay said.
The AUTHORITY reports that the protracted conflict in the north-east caused by the Boko Haram insurgents has had devastating impacts on education.
From 2009 until December 2018, 611 teachers were killed and 910 schools damaged or destroyed. More than 1,500 schools were forced to close and some 4.2 million children in the north-east are at risk of missing out on an education. Hundreds of girls have also been abducted, some even from their own schools, which are meant to be safe zones.
Recall that the International Day for Protection of Education is commemorated every September 9.