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Borno advances in reducing out-of-school kids

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By Abraham Adekunle

From two million children, it has now been reduced to 800k in five years.

In the North East of Nigeria, Borno State has achieved a significant milestone in its fight against a major obstacle to development: out-of-school children. Governor Babagana Zulum announced a reduction from a staggering two million to 800,000 children not enrolled in education. This represents a 60% decrease in just five years, a testament to the Borno State government’s dedication to improving access to education. However, celebrating this progress must be tempered with the understanding that Borno still faces a long road ahead. Understanding the root causes behind the initial high number of out-of-school children is crucial.

The Boko Haram insurgency, which emerged in Borno in 2009, has been a devastating force, actively targeting schools and education as anathema to its ideology. The 2014 kidnapping of 276 girls from Chibok Girls Secondary School became a global symbol of the group’s brutality towards education. School closures due to insecurity, displacement of families due to violence, and the psychological trauma inflicted on children have all contributed significantly to the high number of out-of-school children in Borno. Borno’s struggle is not unique. Nigeria, as a whole, faces a significant challenge with out-of-school children.

Strategies Borno employed in reducing the statistics.

According to UNICEF, Nigeria has the highest number of out-of-school children in the world, at an estimated 20 million. Poverty, child labor, and lack of access to quality education, particularly in rural areas, are major contributing factors across the country. Governor Zulum’s administration has prioritized education since taking office in 2019. One of his strategies includes rebuilding devastated infrastructure. Boko Haram’s attacks destroyed numerous schools. Rebuilding these schools was critical to create physical spaces for learning. Another is enhancing school security. The recent news report highlights the ongoing threat posed by insurgents. Ensuring the safety of students and teachers is paramount to keeping schools open.

Again, the governor also improved monitoring and accountability. The distribution of vehicles to local education authorities and the demand for quarterly performance reports demonstrate the government’s commitment to effective management of education resources. While Borno has made significant progress, reducing the number of out-of-school children to 800,000 is still a substantial challenge. Here are some key areas that require further attention. One of them is reaching the most vulnerable. Children in internally displaced persons (IDP) camps and remote areas may require targeted outreach programs to ensure they are not left behind. Another is quality of education. Rebuilding schools is just one step. Investing in qualified teachers, teacher training, and appropriate learning materials is essential for providing a quality education that keeps children engaged.

Collaboration is a key factor in achieving the feat.

Furthermore, to create a sustainable environment for education, addressing the root causes involves continued efforts to combat the insurgency and address underlying socioeconomic factors that push families towards child labor are necessary to create a sustainable environment for education. The Borno State government cannot achieve these goals alone. Collaboration with the federal government, international aid organizations, and non-governmental organizations with expertise in education in conflict zones is crucial. Sharing best practices and leveraging combined resources will accelerate progress.

Also, the statistics paint a stark picture, but behind the numbers are the stories of countless children who have missed out on education. Their reintegration into the education system requires not just access to schools but also psychosocial support to address the trauma they may have experienced. Borno’s progress offers a glimmer of hope in a region ravaged by conflict. By acknowledging the challenges that remain, adopting a comprehensive approach, and fostering collaboration, Borno can ensure that every child has the opportunity to learn and build a brighter future.

Related Article: Out of school problem needs a new approach

Summarily, while Borno has demonstrably improved access to education, the fight for every child’s right to learn is far from over. Addressing the lingering threats of insurgency, improving the quality of education, and providing targeted support to vulnerable populations are all crucial steps. Collaboration with the federal government and international actors is essential. Borno’s story is a testament to the resilience of its people and their unwavering belief in the power of education. By prioritizing the needs of every child, Borno can transform the narrative, ensuring education becomes a powerful tool for healing, growth, and a brighter future for all.

Related Link

UNICEF: Website

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