From Pwanagba Agabus, Jos
The Jos Stakeholders Centre for Peace (JSCP) through its Psycho-Social Support Group has secured scholarship for 136 vulnerable children in a crisis ridden community (Naraguta B Ward) in Jos North LGA of Plateau State.
Twelve schools in the aforementioned community signed a pact with the Non Governmental Organisation to provide tuition free education for the children who are either orphans, less privileged as a result of the crisis that hitherto bedeviled their area.
Most of the beneficiaries are children of widows who have lost their bread winners and means of livelihood, as a result of the unrest.
Pwakim Jacob Choji, Consultant Coordinator, Search for Common Ground, under which the Collaborative for Violence Prevention Survey, which has produce the Jos Stakeholders Centre for Peace, said, “These are people that have been affected by crisis, where they have loss their source of livelihood and some of the children have lost interest in going to school.
“So we were able to meet some schools who have agreed to give scholarship, that is tuition free education, which we believe will inspire the children to go to school.
“We also believe that if this set of children go to school, even if hitherto they had this revenge mentality, they are likely to feel that the society has catered and have supported them. It is more of giving these children hope as they grow, believing that as they are supported to become more reasonable, than if they had not gone to school; as they are more likely to promote peace.
Choji maintained that, there will be gender balance in the selection process (50% each) of the beneficiaries.
“Most of the schools that gave these scholarship are found within the Christian Community, but we have made it open across other communities, so that it can build harmony, sadly we couldn’t get applicants from the others.
“But we are trying to see how we can reach out to other communities with similar challenges, so its an ongoing thing, and we are hopeful that we will be able to expand this”, he explained.
Also speaking, chairman of the Psycho-Social Support Group of JSCP, Atsen Arin, said, “We approached more 50 schools to seek for this scholarship support, but only 12 schools agreed.
“Out of the 12 schools, only one offered 50% tuition free, but the others gave 100%, which means that the children will buy their books and uniforms, but the school fees has been waived.
“But before then, we had a meeting with the two District Heads in charge of the area and they keyed into our programme; infact they signed all the letters we took to the various schools we approached”, Arin explained.
In her address, the chairperson of JSCP, Mrs Jennifer Yerima, said, “Iam happy with the turnout of women, because when opportunities like this come, because they have the interest of their children at heart, they try to take advantage of that.
“Women are always at the receiving end, as husbands are being killed in battlegrounds, and society don’t see women as people that favourably compete with men, so we are at a disadvantage position.
“So for women, I believe the scholarship is a welcome development, because while we are struggling with family needs, the education aspect of it is been taken care of.
“Honestly, we don’t know how to appreciate the proprietors of these 12 schools, but only God can reward them”, she admonished.
In his remarks, Adagwom Haruna Itse Izang, District Head, Fudawa in Jos LGA, thanked the initiators of the programme and the schools that offered the scholarship.
He also appealed to other schools to emulate the kind gesture of the 12 schools that gave the scholarship.
Speaking on behalf of the proprietors, Mr Oluwasegun Oge, said they were inspired to give the scholarship on compassionate grounds, and believe that if the children grow up knowing how they benefited from such a gesture, they will have the heart of compassion to reach out to their communities.
Oge commended JSCP for the initiative, saying government alone cannot shoulder education.
Beneficiaries are children in primary and secondary schools within the aforementioned community.
The schools that gave the scholarship include: Grateful Heart Academy, I.H.S International School, GSS Gwong, Christian Asset Private School, Gods Glorious Generation, Solid Foundation Private School, Quest Nursery and Primary School, Buschords High School, Prince and Bride Academy, Solid Rock View Private School, Confidence Model International, COCIN Academy Nursery and Primary School, and Divine Grace, all in Naraguta B Ward.