According to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), education has the power to put an end to violence in Nigeria. To ensure more children have access to learning, they have enrolled over 720,000 out-of-school children in distance learning programs. Speaking in an exclusive interview with, UNICEF’s representative in Nigeria, Cristian Munduate, highlighted the importance of education as the world celebrates the 2024 International Day of Education on January 24, under the theme “Learning for Lasting Peace”. Education holds the power to deeply influence peace by fundamentally transforming an individual’s actions and conduct, she said.
Mauduate firmly believes that education plays a crucial role in the development of both individuals and nations, emphasizing that without granting access to education for every child in Nigeria, the goals of social harmony, progress, economic wealth, and gender equality will remain out of reach. According to her, Nigeria accounts for a staggering 15% of the global out-of-school populace. 10.2 million children find themselves deprived of primary education, whereas 8.1 million are denied junior secondary education, with the Northern region of the country bearing the brunt of this issue.
UNICEF established a fruitful approach alongside government.
The deprivation of education exacerbates poverty, inequality, unemployment, and perpetuates additional acts of violence, warned the spokesperson. In 2023, 439 schools were forced to shut down due to conflicts and the persistent fear of attacks, as incidents of school attacks persist throughout all regions in Nigeria. According to Mauduate, UNICEF has been assisting Nigeria in adhering to the policy guidelines of the internationally ratified Safe School convention, while also ensuring that underprivileged children are provided with educational opportunities beyond traditional classrooms.
As part of its endeavors, UNICEF has provided assistance to 13 states that are facing the greatest risks, aiding them in creating affordable and secure school implementation strategies, while establishing governing committees within these states. The organization has established a fruitful approach alongside the government to tackle the issue of children being out of school in six northern states. This strategy encompasses various measures such as offering financial aid to households, addressing poverty-related challenges, rallying community support, providing funding for schools to enhance their infrastructure, and prioritizing basic literacy and numeracy education for young learners in both formal and informal educational settings.
Active participation of parents for peace campaigns is crucial.
Implementation of this model has yielded remarkable results, as it has facilitated the enrolment of countless Nigerian children in educational institutions. Moreover, it constitutes a fundamental aspect of the comprehensive strategy undertaken by The Universal Basic Education Commission (UBEC), operating at both the national and regional levels, to address the issue of out-of-school children. The agency mentioned that they are collaborating with Federal and state ministries of education regarding out-of-school children by implementing a distance learning method. In addition to the program, various learning packages are provided to facilitate education through mobile internet access.
She commended President Bola Ahmed Tinubu-led administration for allocating 25 percent of the Budget to the education sector in 2024. It is essential that this allocation is put to productive use, particularly in the domains of enrolment, infrastructure, and teachers’ education. To ensure effective implementation, active participation of parents, teachers, and youths in the learning for peace campaign is crucial as they hold key responsibilities in this endeavor. According to her, the involvement of young people is crucial in fostering valuable life skills and setting positive examples by steering clear of violence. They also play a significant role in fostering friendships that transcend societal divisions and actively engaging in educational endeavors.
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Moreover, the absence of a secure school environment creates an unsettling atmosphere for parents, leading them to hesitate in sending their children to school. Consequently, this exacerbates both the prevalence of out-of-school children and the prevailing learning crisis. Mauduate strongly pressed the Nigerian government to prioritize education by adopting alternative policy decisions that align with the country’s abundant resources. They should remain committed to increasing budget allocation to the education sector, with aim to achieve 4% of GDP by the year 2025.