Through its Addressing Education in the Northeast (AENN) program in Borno and Yobe states, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has reached over 20,000 out-of-school children in both formal and informal settings in Northeast Nigeria.
Ayo Oladini, AENN’s Chief of Party, who disclosed this in Abuja on Thursday during the program’s closing ceremony, said the success was achieved by developing 52 conflict sensitive, age appropriate textbooks in Hausa and Kanuri for the beneficiaries.
According to him, the programme worked with traditional rulers, educators, and education ministries to instill a culture of learning and prepare children for enrollment in conventional schools.
Before launching the programme, AENN discovered that the insurgency in the Northeast had resulted in low school enrollment rates due to displacements and school closures.
To address the issues, Oladini said AENN established 912 non-formal learning centres, with 47 per cent female learning facilitators who received coaching on conflict sensitive teaching and pedagogy as part of the program.
He added they have mainstreamed the transition of approximately 43,000 learners, 61 per cent of whom are female. At the height of COVID-19, radio programs were also introduced to ensure children’s distant learning, he said.
Dr. Anne E. Peterson, USAID Mission Director in Nigeria, thanked the partners who helped with the project’s implementation and promised to continue assisting with its sustainability.
She stressed that using indigenous languages to teach young children in conflict zones has been shown to be effective in ensuring community resilience.
“Research shows that teaching in local languages during crises is more effective in ensuring community resilience,” Peterson said.
The training manuals were written in Hausa and Kanuri and were intended to teach the beneficiaries basic arithmetic, literacy, and emotional stability.
Two of the program’s beneficiaries, Kamis Bulama of Borno and Fatima Usaini from Yobe state, who spoke in English and Hausa in a pre-recorded video, said they had never been to school before the programme but have learned to read and write as a result of it.
Among those who attended the program’s closing ceremony was Alhaji Mai Abubakar Umar Sulaiman, the Emir of Bade, Yobe State, who received an award for his contributions to the program’s success.
According to a 2020 report, Yobe, one of the worst-affected states by the Boko Haram insurgency in the Northeast, has the highest number of out-of-school children in Nigeria, with 57 per cent of its children not attending formal schools.
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