Nigeria is set to receive US$119million (about N45.2billion) in catalytic investment grants that will ensure the needs of over 2.9 million children and youth in the country are met.
The move according to Education Cannot Wait (ECW) – a global fund aimed at transforming the delivery of education in emergencies and protracted crisis – is to accelerate educational support in response to the protracted armed conflict and ongoing humanitarian needs in the northeastern region of the country that has left more than 1 million children out of school.
ECW on Friday announced the amount and noted that the initial programme which will cost US$20.1 million (about N8billion) will run for three years, with the goal of leveraging an additional US$98.7 million (about N38billion) in co-financing from national and global partners, the private sector and philanthropic foundations.
“Education Cannot Wait has been supporting the education in emergencies response in Nigeria since 2018 through the First Emergency Response intervention. During the COVID-19 pandemic, ECW was the first donor to offer support to conflict-affected North East Nigeria.
“Once more, ECW is supporting Nigeria in the advancement of education in emergencies through the multi-year resilience programme. This is highly commendable, and a much-appreciated endeavour,” said Dr Shettima Bukar Kullima, Executive Chairman, Borno State Universal Basic Education Board Nigeria.
“Children and teachers are being targeted in violent attacks. Killings, rape and other forms of sexual violence, abduction and child recruitment are putting girls and boys at extreme risk. Education is not only every child’s right but the protection it provides is also all too often life-saving,” said Yasmine Sherif, Director of Education Cannot Wait.
He added further that: “This new education in emergency response, which delivers across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus, helps sow the seeds of peace and tolerance, while also ensuring girls and boys have access to safe and protective learning environments.
“Nigeria is making progress in addressing the protracted crisis in the northeast of the country, but with limited resources and continued violence, progress has been uneven.
“There are still approximately 1 million children, including 583,000 girls, and 18,000 education personnel that are in rapid need of support to either resume or sustain education in northeast Nigeria. I call on public and private sector donors to urgently help close the $98.7 million funding gap for this crucial programme. There is no time to lose,” said Sherif
The number of children and youth with chronic needs in education remains high across the three states targeted through the Education Cannot Wait investment. Estimates indicate that nearly 60 per cent of primary-school-age children and adolescents are not attending school, with girls disproportionally affected.
Despite a decrease in the number of security incidents targeting education structures since 2017, the risk of violent attacks, abduction, and kidnappings remains a constant threat.
Poverty remains one of the greatest barriers to educational access. Parents simply cannot afford to send their children to school. COVID-19 has made matters even worse. Classrooms often lack school furniture and water, sanitation and hygiene facilities, teachers are poorly paid, and schools and learning centres often lack high-quality learning materials.
Implementing in partnership with the Government of Nigeria by UNICEF, Save the Children, and a consortium between the Norwegian Refugee Council and Street Child, the overall multi-year resilience programme targets 2.9 million children and adolescents from 2021 to 2023. Half of the targeted beneficiaries are displaced children and youth, while the other half live in host communities that are affected by conflict.
The programme builds on the success of the Education Cannot Wait funded ‘first emergency response’ in northeast Nigeria that reached 290,000 children. Education Cannot Wait seed funding will initiate the implementation of the programme by focusing on reaching girls and boys in the states of Borno, Adamawa and Yobe.
In total, over 482,000 girls and boys will access learning opportunities of whom over 60% are girls and adolescent girls. The programme also targets 48,000 girls and boys in early learning programmes, 380,000 at primary level and some 50,000 at the secondary level, in both formal and non-formal education settings.
Among its various outputs, the programme will build and renovate classrooms and learning spaces, support stipends for teachers and increase continuity by working with local partners to keep children and youth in school. It will also ensure educators have the training and tools they need to build gender-responsive learning plans, and safe and protective learning environments that respond to the specific needs of girls, children with disabilities and crisis-affected children in need of psychosocial support.
By Abel Ejikeme